Owners Pass Changes To League's Instant Replay System

Intro: NFL owners on Tuesday passed an amendment in which referees can receive help from the league office during games to avoid administrative mistakes.


By Conor Orr
Around The NFL Writer

In another strong push to improve officiating across the board, NFL owners Tuesday passed an amendment to league rules that should help referees receive help from the league office in New York during games and avoid making certain administrative mistakes.

Essentially, the changes include an expansion of the New York office's ability to chime in, which Commissioner Roger Goodell allowed them to do during the playoffs this past season.

The exact wording from the proposal is linked here.*

"The Replay Official and designated members of the Officiating Department at the League office may consult with the on-field officials to provide information on the correct application of playing rules, including appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, proper down, and status of the game clock."*

The changes also added an additional category and sub categories to Article 5, which defines the type of plays that are reviewable. The new "game administration" category covers penalty enforcement, proper down, spot of a foul and status of the game clock.*

"In situations in which time is deemed to have expired during or after the last play of the first or second half, or of an overtime period in the preseason or regular season, or of an overtime half in the postseason, a timing error is defined as having occurred only when the visual evidence demonstrates that more than one second should be put on the clock.

"In the first half, time shall be restored only if the additional play will be a snap from scrimmage. In the second half, time shall be restored only if it is a one-score game (eight points or less), and the additional play will be a snap from scrimmage by the team that is behind in the score, or by either team if the score is tied. A correction of a timing error for a team timeout may be made only if there is visual evidence of an official's signal."*

Game-clock management and penalty reassessment was a major discussion point among owners after a few high-profile officiating mistakes in 2015 that altered the outcome of several games. In November, a missed false start penalty helped elevate the Jaguars over the Ravens. In October, there was a Monday Night Football contest where the clock started 18 seconds early, potentially robbing the Steelers of a second chance to attempt a game-winning play at the goal line (they scored anyway). That gaffe forced a one-game suspension on Rob Vernatchi, the side judge responsible for the error.

A couple of other notes on proposed ruled changes:

» The league will hold off a rule change regarding the ability to study sideline video for another year.
» Additionally, the proposal of eliminating the 75-man roster cut failed.

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