A common NFL criticism (among many) is the lack of transparency in both the rules themselves and the enforcement of those rules. The Alliance of American Football is obviously not going to replace the NFL, but that doesn’t mean the bigger league can’t learn anything from the AAF. If there’s one thing they should adopt as soon as possible, it’s the AAF (and CBS) putting a mic and camera on the replay official.
Here’s how one review played out on Saturday night, with the replay official narrating her thoughts as angles popped up, and eventually seeing something that made her reverse course from what she would have initially called:
The AAF replay official changes her mind during the process of the review. This level of transparency is outstanding. A must-add for the NFL.pic.twitter.com/5LwIYclTYw
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) February 10, 2019
The risk leagues run, of course, is that by putting a spotlight on officiating decisions, viewers can see mistakes happen in real-time. What that ignores, though, is that we can already see when mistakes occur. No one really expects perfection from officials, but people do expect at least a semblance of a competent process, and that’s what this transparency offers.
The irony is that by not offering this (and by not offering something like the NBA does, even, with their final two-minute reports), it invites fans (New Orleans…hello) to assume that there’s rampant incompetence the league is hiding from view, instead of the more likely scenario of rare incompetence and good process ruined by unclear rules forcing impossible interpretations.
More transparency wouldn’t necessarily solve anything other than optics, but that’s not nothing. Plus, it provides more interesting television, and the NFL is all about making their product more entertaining.