While I am on board with rule changes that allow egregious errors in officiating penalties to be amended and corrected, one thing that I would like to see happen that I believe will go a long way toward correcting that on the fly is the addition of an eighth official to each crew whose presence is in a booth rather than on the field.
This ‘sky judge’, as it has been called, would have real-time access to video, including all the technology that comes with it, and would have the opportunity to, within a timely fashion, assist the on-field officiating crew in getting the calls right without the need for a formal review process.
Prior to the start of the annual league meeting, Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said that there was no support within that group for the idea of adding a sky judge. Days later, however, it seems much less unlikely. While it may not be passed in this round, it could be tabled for a later meeting during the offseason.
Said Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin, a member of the committee, of the sky judge, “in concept I am not against it, but I need more information in how he functions, what his role is. What is the extent of his power”.
Steelers President Art Rooney II had similar reservations in the week leading up to the league meeting in which he expressed concern for the potential impact of rule changes involving the addition of penalties to the replay system, yet he ultimately voted in favor of the rule that was passed yesterday.
“I think all of us have an appetite for this discussion. But an appetite for the discussion is just a component of it”, Tomlin said. “The devil is in the details. You have to write out some parameters of what this looks like, what any of these things look like”.
“We can all sit around a table and talk about we want to play and officiate it in a certain way. But what is the rule, the minutiae, what it the write-up within the rule that captures plays that we want officiated in a certain way without compromising other potential plays, etc. It’s a challenge. I am glad to be a part of the process”.
Whether or not that process evolves to a point where a sky judge can be adopted in time for the 2019 season remains to be seen, but quite frankly, I consider it an inevitability in the near future for the NFL. They already informally have this process with the league office monitoring games.