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No momentum for big instant replay rule changes

Don’t look for any quick rule changes to expand instant replay.



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In light of one of the most controversial judgement calls in recent playoff memory, fans, pundits, players, owners and coaches called for NFL instant replay to step in and correct judgement calls.

Right now, the only judgement call instant replay can check is 12-men on the field. Instant replay cannot help the officials make holding, pass interference, illegal blocking and offside calls.

And, for now, it looks like the current rules will stay in place.

This week, the NFL Competition Committee met to discuss instant replay rules. And, the owners are having a hard time turning the drumbeat for instant replay changes into coherent music.

Now, will the NFL eventually change the instant replay rules? We are still early in the rule-change process, so it is still possible. But, the Competition Committee does not want to make a knee-jerk rule change to address the controversy of the day. Many times the knee-jerk change opens a can of worms that creates more controversy.

The Competition Committee could recommend mechanics changes if they feel the officials are missing something.

Will this lead to an eighth official on the field? Again, expect the Competition Committee to move slowly before any final decision. The union contract between the NFL and its officials expires after the 2019 season, so an eighth official could be a big negotiating point.

Any mechanics changes could deal with referee positioning to judge action against the quarterback. There were some missed face mask calls on the quarterback this past season as well as some phantom roughing-the-passer calls. The Competition Committee may also ask the umpire or a short wing official to help the referee on those calls.

If there will be any instant replay expansion this coming season, there is a long way to go before owners take the white-out to the rule book.

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"