Editorial: It’s time to end the instant replay experiment

NOTE: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.

I'm all about new technology. I've finally embraced cell phones, social media, smart watches, and artificial intelligence. I'm even in favor of robot umps in baseball. I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords.

That said, I think it's time to move away from instant replay in football. I mean 180 degrees. Completely in the opposite direction.

Let's be honest for a moment here, shall we? There are seven words that no football fan wants to hear: The previous play is under further review.

We have finally outsmarted ourselves with this replay issue. Take the debacle on Sunday afternoon involving the Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons. 

Nevermind about whether or not a) Golden Tate had crossed the goal line before he was touched down, or b) whether Tate had possession of the ball completely until he was in the end zone, and c) don't worry that when his knee was “down” the game clock had 11 seconds remaining.


And don't you dare think about the blatant pass interference on the play (which is not reviewable for some strange arbitrary reason I'm too frustrated to think about).


I mean, really. If you're going to look at a play to get it right, why not look at everything that takes place on the field to see if there were any other infractions?

Due to the 10-second run off rule, the Lions never had a chance to attempt to line up and run another play. Bob Wojnowski put it eloquently in his game column today:

“The Lions were punished not for a fake attempt to stop the clock, but because of the officials’ own review of their own missed call.”

Seriously consider that for a moment. The entire point of instant replay is to use technology to get the call correct no matter what. First of all, that's not possible since only certain plays are reviewable. Why look at some plays and not others? All or nothing, I say.

Let's not forget about all the time wasted on reviews. The games are long enough as it is.

Most importantly, Detroit was robbed of a chance to compete for the win on Sunday because of a replay. Teams shouldn't be penalized for the referees in a New York studio trying to make sure that the officials on the field didn't screw up. It all sounds like a science fiction plot from Minority Report. I'm half expecting Tom Cruise to come running on the field prior to the snap and arresting Tate for a pre-penalty.

News flash: humans are going to make mistakes. Quarterbacks will throw interceptions. Receivers will drop passes that hit them in the hands (looking at you Eric Ebron). Running backs will fumble. And yes…refs are going to make incorrect calls and miss penalties.

It's time to embrace the human element of sports. I'd rather live through another Jim Joyce situation another 10 times than endure a repeat of Sunday afternoon. The fact that the clock was run out on the Falcons and Lions completely took the game out of the hands of the personnel on the field. That includes the referees.

Let's remove all instant replay from the NFL. Not only has it finally ruined a competitive event (as we saw last Sunday), but, it also slows a game down that is already dominated by TV timeouts and commercialization. I used to be on the other side of this fence, but, the outcome of the Falcons/Lions game opened my eyes.

The game is played and officiated by humans. The players are doing the best they possibly can to win the game. The officials are trusted to do call the game as objectively as they can as well.

We need to trust them and live with the result.