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NFL approves replay review command center in New York

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By Alan Robinson
Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 12:27 p.m.
 

ORLANDO, Fla. — When NFL referees go under the replay hood next season, they'll have company.

New York on Line 1.

NFL owners voted Tuesday to change the replay system by incorporating a central command center in New York that will confer with referees on all replays, although the referee will make the final call.

NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said the league officiating office won't dictate the call to the on-site referee and that all decisions will be by consensus. But he also said a command center that will monitor all games will make certain a referee doesn't make an incorrect call.

By including its officiating department in all replays, the NFL is hoping to make the process faster and more accurate. Rather than waiting for a referee to walk across the field and go under the replay hood, a review can begin in New York as soon as a play takes place.

The new rule states, “During the review, the referee will consult with designated members of the officiating department at the league office command center. A decision will be reversed only when the referee has indisputable visual evidence available to him that warrants the change.”

All reviewable aspects of a play can be looked at and reversed, even if not identified in a coach's replay request.

Steelers president Art Rooney II favored the proposal because, he said, “Frankly, I think that (New York's involvement in replay reviews) happens anyway.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin also believes the league office previously discussed replays with the officials.

Rooney said he favors any changes that make the replay system more accurate but doesn't slow down the game.

The NHL has a centralized replay system in which all calls are made at its Toronto office. Major League Baseball also is expanding its replay system this season.

NFL owners also voted to ban so-called “roll-up” blocks on the side of a player's leg, a relatively minor alteration to the current rule that bans blocks from behind and one that should benefit defensive players.

Also barred were post-touchdown dunks over the goal post, an enforcement of an existing rule that prohibits the football from being used as a prop by a player. Former Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, now retired, often mimicked dunking after scoring.

Shortly after the decision was announced, Gonzalez posted a Twitter message reading, “This one I don't understand. Looks like I got out just in time.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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