The NFL said that officials will no longer go watch replay reviews “under the hood,” but use sideline tablets instead.
Let’s get New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s reaction to the news:
Belichick vs the tablet pic.twitter.com/pF7AKHE5H5
— Patriots Extra (@PatriotsExtra) October 2, 2016
This is part of the NFL changing the replay review process. The review will be centralized, with NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino ultimately having the final say in the call. Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed the change Thursday on ESPN Radio. ESPN’s Kevin Seifert had a detailed explanation of the changes.
As part of this, an official will no longer look under the hood at a monitor, but be given a tablet and a headset to discuss the call with the league office.
“We’re going to centralize the replay back here in New York,” Goodell told ESPN, according to CBS Boston. “We want the referee’s input. … He can look at the play, be in communication back in our office with Dean Blandino, and Dean Blandino will have the final decision. We think that will move it much quicker.”
The centralized replay review is similar to what Major League Baseball uses. There has to be some question about how the NFL office will handle it when there are multiple challenges from different stadiums at the same time – there are often eight or nine games going on simultaneously on a normal early Sunday afternoon of NFL action – but they probably have thought that through.
There’s also the question of what happens if the tablets fail, and the officials at the stadium can’t be involved in the process. Famously, Belichick railed against the tablets not working last season, saying they’re “basically a problem every week.”
“I’m done with the tablets,” Belichick said as part of a long answer last season. “I’ve given them as much time as I can give them. They’re just too undependable for me. I’m going to stick with pictures as several of our other coaches do as well because there just isn’t enough consistency in the performance of the tablets, so I just can’t take it anymore.”
Since Blandino has final say on the call it might not matter much anyway, but it’s still something worth monitoring. At the very least using the tablets will mean more free air time for one of the NFL’s sponsors, which probably isn’t a coincidence.
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