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  1. Sports

The call in the press box: Kill replay

Published Dec. 23, 2017

Upon further review, replay stinks.

All replay. All sports. Especially football.

Let's get rid of it and get rid of it right now. Seriously. It's ruining games. It's ruining seasons.

This isn't about one play, but let's talk about one play.

Last week: Steelers vs. Patriots.

In the final minute, Steelers tight end Jesse James caught a pass at the 1-yard line, turned around with the ball and stretched it over the goal line. When he landed, the ball rattled in his hands and appeared to barely scrape the ground.

James never lost control of the ball, and every person on the entire planet who was watching, including every Patriot and every official on the field, thought it was a touchdown.

But the NFL, because it thinks things like this make the game better, reviewed the score for several minutes, breaking down the play frame-by-frame on sophisticated HD televisions. After several minutes, the touchdown call was reversed and ruled an incomplete pass. The Patriots held on for the 27-24 win and, with the help of that call, have an excellent chance for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Now, you might argue that replay wasn't the problem on this call but the goofy rules about what is and is not a catch in the NFL. (Which, by the way, no one knows, either.)

But this all goes back to replay. With our incredible technology, where we can practically count the blades of grass on the field, we can talk ourselves into almost any call if we stare at it long enough. Watch. Stop. Rewind. Watch in slow-mo. Stop. Rewind. Watch in super slow-mo. Freeze it. Zoom in. Run it again.

Over and over and over to the point that we don't even know what we're watching anymore. Over and over and over to the point that two intelligent people can watch the exact same thing and not agree on what they are watching.

Let's just stop the madness.

Let's just go back to the way things were for a hundred years when we didn't have replay and got along just fine.

I know how we got here. Over the years, there were enough blown calls that could have easily been fixed by replay. For example:

A receiver is ruled out of bounds, but replays showed he had two feet in. A fumble is called, but replays showed the running back's knee was down before he fumbled.

And because our technology is so good now, the greatest fear for any league is that 50 million people watching on television can see a guy stepped out of bounds, and the only person on the planet who didn't see it was the official who made the wrong call. If such controversy can be avoided, why not do so?

But here's my issue: Replay doesn't get it right 100 percent of the time. How many times have you watched a replay and were convinced that the wrong call was made on the field, and yet the call is upheld? I've watched replays of James' catch 50 times and I still he think he caught the pass. If replay isn't going to have a 100 percent success rate, then it's seriously flawed.

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Proponents of replay will argue that the league just wants to get the call right so that the game is played fairly. So how come only certain plays can be reviewed?

Think about it. We review whether a player fumbles or is inbounds, but we don't review things such as interference or holding or blocks in the back. Why not?

It just seems as if replay has gone too far. Take baseball and the play where a runner slides into a base and ever so slightly lifts his foot off the bag. That's not the type of play replay was set in place to fix.

But there we are, frame by frame, looking for a fraction of light between a runner's foot and the base while making sure the dangling lace of a fielder's glove is touching a loose thread on the runner's belt loop.

Games are already too long, and we're wasting more time looking at replays that may or may not get the call right when it's all said and done.

I say be done with it.

Besides, if we get rid of replays, we can get back to controversies and, especially in baseball, heated arguments with umpires. What's better than that?

If we kill replay, what's the worst that can happen?

Well, a wrong call could be made and a team can get cheated out of a win that impacts its playoff positioning.

Then again, didn't that happen to the Steelers last week?

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