Fix it or junk it, quickly

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Is The Nfl's Instant Replay Review Working?

December 16, 2008|By DAVID STEELE

It's not crystal clear why the NFL's instant replay system has worked so poorly the past few years. It's not even clear what specifically isn't working. But there's no doubt that it doesn't work. At the very least, it should be completely overhauled in the offseason - and if it weren't so disruptive, it ought to be done sooner.

At most, it should be discarded for something else. Anything else. Except that "human element," because that wasn't good enough, either. The human element is what's making a disaster of things now. Humans are either making bad rules, enforcing them poorly, interpreting them poorly or some combination of them all.

Viewers can believe what they want to believe about Santonio Holmes' catch Sunday, but referee Walt Coleman was responsible for knowing the rules, reviewing the replay and explaining his decision to the crowd, both coaches and, later, a pool reporter - and he did none of that well.

The same went for the crew that botched the review of Troy Polomalu's touchdown against the San Diego Chargers last month, the one on which the officials could not figure out whether the laterals were legal. In both cases, what apparently was the correct call on the field was overturned based on far less than irrefutable evidence.

Replay is supposed to correct bad calls. If it doesn't do that, shame on it. If it switches correct calls for incorrect ones, then tell the system goodbye and start over.

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