Call 'em as you see 'em, Johnson says on replays Cowboys coach irked by timidity in booth

November 23, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON, Va. -- Free the Instant Replay Official.

They haven't put that on T-shirts in Dallas yet, but coach Jimmy Johnson of the Dallas Cowboys probably would be the first in line to buy one.

"I'd like to take the handcuffs off the replay official and let him make [reverse] a call that everybody in the country sees is a mistake," Johnson said this week in a conference call to Redskin Park.

Johnson, irate with the officiating in his team's 22-9 loss to the New York Giants, said Sunday, "In all my years of coaching, I've never, ever seen a game officiated as poorly as this one."

He escaped a fine because commissioner Paul Tagliabue said it was his first offense, but there's been a lot of speculation that the calls might have been so bad that the commissioner didn't think a fine was appropriate.

What was more puzzling than the calls, was that none of them was overturned by the replay official.

For example, Emmitt Smith appeared to drop a pass, but the officials called it a fumble and a recovery for the Giants. The replay official let the call stand.

"I think the replay officials sometimes are reluctant for one reason or another to overturn a call and I'd like to see replay expanded so we could give the replay official more leeway in using his judgment," Johnson said. "We have qualified people in there and they have the benefit of the tapes in front of them, so I'd like to take the handcuffs off the replay official where he doesn't have to have a 100 percent conclusive view before he overturns a call. I'd like for the replay official to use his judgment just like the officials on the field make judgment calls."

The failure of the replay official to overturn bad calls in the Giants-Cowboys game, as well as the Houston Oilers-Cleveland Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs-Denver Broncos games, has rekindled the debate about whether the league should throw out instant replay.

Johnson, though, favors continuing replay if the league can find a way to improve it.

"I was skeptical about replay when I first came into the league, but I think replay can help if we give the officials a little more leeway," he said.

Johnson also hopes the league can put more emphasis in the off-season on improving officiating.

"I think it would be productive if we'd all sit down at the league meetings after the season is over when it's not an emotional thing and talk about how we can get better because we always want to get better," Johnson said.

Johnson also stressed he wasn't blaming the loss on the officials.

"In no way did I ever say bad calls affected the ballgame. The Giants beat us. They deserved to win the game," he said.

NOTES: The Cowboys have 1 of the 4 sacks the Redskins have given up this year, and defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt predicted that they'd break the Redskins' streak of 6 games without allowing a sack. He said, "We're going to get a couple." QB Mark Rypien replied, "It'll be interesting to see." . . . K Chip Lohmiller (sore back) is expected to be ready tomorrow.

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