From time to time, the powers that be on Park Avenue become tempted to use replay review as a fresh look at a play with the power to reverse on-field decisions at any and every stadium. Admittedly, the standard that applies may be forgotten.
A decision on the field can be overturned only when clear and unambiguous evidence shows that a mistake was made. Previously known officially as “Indisputable Visual Evidence”, the bar has been informally described as “50 drunks at once”, one would agree this was a poor call.
As one of the most important plays of the Week Two game between the Chargers and Chiefs approaches, it is pertinent to ask whether the league office has applied the appropriate standard, determining that on the field of an interception by LA cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. Government. was wrong.
It was a big drama. The Chargers led 10. He would have had the ball in the Kansas City 30. The road team could go up to 17 and send home team fans home early.
The NFL senior VP, who played Walt Anderson to pool reporter Joe Ready after the game, said: “What we saw was that ball hit the ground And that he had not secured and maintained control of the ball after it hit the ground. We saw the speed of the ball after it hit the ground, then the ground helped secure it again.”
Added Anderson: “The ball was hitting the ground as it was going down, and . . . he didn’t maintain control of the ball.”
But is it clear and obvious that Samuel made the wrong decision to regain control of the ball before it actually hit the ground? That question was not asked. The answer to that question was no.
That is the only question that needed to be asked, and which needed to be answered. Is there clear and unambiguous evidence that the on-field decision was wrong?
In other words, did 50 drunks at once (watching on DirecTV so they don’t have to worry about buffering) said it wasn’t an intercept? I don’t think they will. This means that, even if the rule would have been incomplete if the rules required no respect for the decision made on the field, the interception should have resulted in a very high standard for replay review.
Another rule of thumb to assess is whether the evidence for overturning a ruling on the field is clear and clear. When Peter King and I were talking about this issue during Friday PFT LiveI found myself leaning towards the monitor under my camera to better see the key moments of the play.
That’s when it happened to me. If you have to lean forward to watch the play and determine whether the decision was right, can it ever be “clear and clear” that the ruling on the field was wrong?