Best Idea Ever: NFL Instant Replay

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 30:  Head coach John Fox of the Carolina Panthers throws a red challenge flag against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 30, 2008 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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The folks over at Captain Morgan asked us to write a post about the Best Idea Ever, or at least the best idea of the last decade or two, and NFL Instant Replay immediately jumped to mind.

Remember the NFL pre-replay? You’d be sitting at home, watching your favorite team, and lo and behold, your defense would give up a touchdown pass. But wait, did he get both of his feet in? It looked like it was close. All of a sudden, a replay would pop up and show everyone at home and in the stadium that he in fact did NOT get two feet in. The broadcast would cut back to a shot of the extra point going through the uprights as a chorus of boos rained down on the referees working the game, and you’d wonder why they don’t use that technology to get the call right instead of frustrating fans around the country.

Well, thanks to instant replay (adopted in 1999), coaches can now challenge up to three calls a game. Now, when the offense knows there’s a close call, they’ll rush to the line of scrimmage and quick run a play in the hopes of getting the snap off before the other coach can decide whether or not to pull his red flag and throw it onto the field. The coach waits to hear from his assistants in the booth to tell him whether or not it’s worth a challenge, and more often than not, it isn’t. Calls are overturned at about a 44% clip, which makes sense since the official needs to see “indisputable evidence” to overturn the call on the field.

The NFL instant replay system certainly has its flaws, however. If a coach keeps winning his challenges, why is he only allowed to make three per game? And now, with offenses more aware of how quickly they need to get up to the line of scrimmage and take the snap, it can be tough for the network broadcasting the game to get best replay up for the coaches and fans to see. Sometimes the best replay is the third or fourth shot they show, and by then it’s too late.

Still, instant replay is the best idea ever. At least when there’s an obvious mistake on the field, there’s a process in place to fix it.

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