Another NFL game, another officiating controversy.

This is getting old. But what is the NFL to do?

By now everybody knows that the Los Angeles Rams will face the New England Patriots in this year’s Super Bowl, and you probably also know that the Rams almost surely got there because of an egregiously bad non-call on a pass interference penalty late in the NFC title game.

It’s ironic, I think, that very few people want to talk about the other bad officiating decisions that happened in the AFC title game between the Pats and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Well, I guess there’s not enough time to whine about every controversy, which is understandable. Because every year in the NFL, there are officiating issues far too numerous to shake a stick at.

They have this thing now that they call “instant replay.” Coaches can toss a flag, and the refs will stand in front of a sideline camera and see all the angles of a play. Then, after several minutes (far too many, usually), they’ll make a final decision on whether it’s a penalty, or whether it’s really a fumble, or whatnot.

Except that in far too many instances, they STILL get it wrong. I mean, are you kidding me?

As for last weekend’s non-call pass interference, instant replay doesn’t apply, anyway. Interference penalties are “judgment calls.” Judgment calls are non-reviewable.

So the problem remains. The system is flawed. If they can send a man to the moon, the NFL can and should make the right changes. Some options:

  1. Ban all television replays of every televised NFL game. That way, no one will ever know for sure that the officials can’t be trusted.
  2. Call an official’s time-out after EVERY play that happens in the final four minutes, and go to instant replay. This will make the three-and-a-half-hour games last an extra 45 minutes, but real football fans won’t mind.
  3. Make all pass interference calls reviewable. The NFL is actually considering this. But why stop there? Even coin tosses have been misapplied in the past.
  4. Hire one more official whose job is solely to sit in a glass booth and review camera replays. He will have the power to overturn a call solely by himself, and he doesn’t need to call a 2-minute time-out. See something on replay indicating there should have been a pass interference penalty? Phone the head referee and tell him to make the call. Millions of us saw the instantaneous TV replay on Sunday and immediately knew what should have happened. Give the replay ref sole power, and allow him to use it at any time.
  5. Or … Just let them play. Eliminate the rules and make it more like it was when you played in your back yard. Wasn’t that fun?