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Football Zebras
NewsClock may be reviewable for ’09 playoffs

Clock may be reviewable for ’09 playoffs

Usually we will give a complete rundown of the “Official Review” segment from the NFL officiating department, but we wanted to advance the news out of that segment to its own post first.

A tip-off to a rare midseason rule change was dropped as vice-president of officiating Mike Pereira (video) was dissecting the fumble recovery in the Eagles–Giants game, which appeared to give the ball to the Eagles with two seconds. Being a nonreviewable play, the half had expired, and the time was not added to the clock.

Pereira said that the league ownership—which currently has a quorum attending an unrelated labor seminar in Dallas—might pass an interim rule change to allow the time on the clock to be reviewable. Because all networks record a camera (usually the live play camera) with a superimposed image of the stadium clock (as opposed to a graphical representation in the “information bar” usually seen on the screen), this combined image could be used for making adjustments to the clock. Quoting Pereira:

We may look at actually making this a rule for the playoffs, that the clock could become reviewable in certain situations. Obviously, there are some situations where it can’t, but [it could for]:

  • loose ball going out of bounds,
  • runner going out of bounds,
  • ball hitting out of bounds,
  • a pass hitting out of bounds,
  • a field goal hitting the net,

where you have a definitive picture as to when the ball should be dead, and you have the clock superimposed. We may be able to get that this year for the playoffs.

Under the criteria outlined by Pereira—there may be additional criteria that was not mentioned— the play from Sunday night would still not be reviewable. We crack our rulebook to Rule 15, Section 9, which lists under “nonreviewable plays include, but are not limited to … status of the clock, … recovery of loose ball in the field of play.” So, by striking “status of the clock” under the proposed rule change, we are still looking at a fumble recovery not being reviewable unless the sideline or end zone is under review.

And, obviously, the status of the clock by itself is not currently reviewable, but if some other element of the play is under review, replay can adjust the clock to be compliant with any overturned call.

As we found out with the 2,100-inch high-definition screen in the new Cowboys Stadium that blocks punts—yes, I just broke out the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the diagonal measure—any rule changes that occur midseason expire at the end of the season and are automatically placed on the Competition Committee agenda to discuss permanent inclusion.

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Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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