This week’s segment of “Official Review” by NFL vice-president of officiating Mike Pereira (video, part 1 and part 2) provides a fascinating insight into the behind-the-scenes work of his department and the grading of officials.
We commented a few weeks ago about Pereira’s modded Xbox 360 controller making its on-air debut and wondered why the change from his simple clicker device he used previously. Turns out that is his everyday equipment for reviewing plays. Pereira said that he was hesitant to try the new equipment, but the controller provides the ability to switch camera angles, as each play is reviewed from a minimum of three angles (the first two are nonbroadcast camera angles, the third is the live shot of the play, and additional angles come from television replays).
Pereira demonstrated the grading process for the officials using an ordinary incomplete pass play from the Giants–Broncos game on Thanksgiving. I counted him shuttling the tape more than 25 times to evaluate every player’s actions on the play. We here, and the rest of the Internet critics, focus on the controversial calls, while the officiating department evaluates some 150 plays per game. Multiply those 150 plays by 256 games for a total of 38,400 plays. If Pereira used an average play for his demonstration—each of those plays getting reviewed 25 times—that means that in a season, his office does 1 million quality checks on its product a year. And, 98% of the time, the call is correct.
It is a very interesting look at the evaluation process, which also includes periodic written tests and other intangibles. You can see the demonstration on the part 2 video. On to the calls on the field:
- Pereira reviewed the “chaos to the nth degree,” as he aptly put it, of the final seconds of regulation in the Steelers–Ravens game. He backed up all of our points, but noted something that we did not realize. The crew, amazingly, had the foresight to place the specialized kicking ball for a field-goal kick. Pereira said that in rushed circumstances, the crew should not worry about spotting a “K” ball. He also acknowledged that referee Ed Hochuli forgot to mark the spot of the fumble with his beanbag, which might have jogged his memory of the correct spot when he went to retrieve it. Pereira did acknowledge that stopping the clock to conference about the spot would have been an unacceptable advantage to the Ravens.
- An early-third-quarter play in the Colts–Texans game gave the Colts 43 yards on a pass-interference penalty against the Texans. Pereira’s assessment was that “it was not a good call.”
- In the Buccaneers–Falcons game, the down-by-contact rule was reviewed that a player cannot be down if the contact preceeded the receiver catching the ball.