Bad officiating overshadowed most of the 2013 NFL season. Bad officiating potentially cost the Steelers a playoff spot. As the NFL owners meet in Orlando this week to consider proposals to rule changes there is one thing that Steelers President Art Rooney II and that is improving the officiating in the NFL.
While the Steelers dug themselves into a 2-6 start last season they ended the season with a 6-2 record and were still alive in the playoff race. An NFL-acknowledged illegal formation penalty missed call on a Kansas City Chiefs 41-yard field goal miss ultimately could have sent the Steelers to the playoffs if the call had been made correctly and the kick was re-taken and was good. That was just one of countless instances where the NFL officials failed to make the correct call on the field of play and the options for coaches’ challenges or replays were limited because of the existing rules in place.
What the goal of these owners’ meetings seem to be this year is to improve the officiating by a number of rule changes. The proposals include things like adding more camera angles around the goal line, increasing the plays in which coaches can challenge the call made on the field, and referees consulting with the league office in New York before ruling on a play.
As a Steeler fan you’re thinking to yourself, “Yes, all those. And probably more!” but Steelers President Art Rooney II knows that improving the officiating should be one that’s done correctly and with consideration on how it will affect the game. While he’s in favor of improving the system in place, he doesn’t think that it should cause the game to be longer and fans in stadiums should be spending their hard earned money watching referees under review hoods instead of action on the field.
“The whole question of should we make a change in terms of the referee actually being the one who makes the decision (on a replay challenge), I think there is going to be a lot of discussion about that and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a change in that, probably not this year, but at some point. But I also think everybody feels like we can do better than what we have now in terms of the time it takes.” – Art Rooney II
In my opinion, I agree with Rooney in that the league needs to improve its officiating, but not at the cost of the product on the field. The product is already taking a hit because the refs are getting the calls wrong so you’re not going to improve it by putting them under the hood longer than they are currently. The improvement needs to include getting the refs to make the correct calls on the field the first time as opposed to making it easier for them to get it wrong by improving all the ways the calls can be overturned.
As much as all Steeler fans would have loved it if Andy Reid could have challenged the play where Ryan Succop missed the potential game-winning 41-yard field goal and the illegal formation penalty would have given them another opportunity and hopefully sent the Steelers into the 2013 playoffs, I think we can all agree that the goal of the NFL should be to ensure the refs call that penalty correctly the first time on the field as opposed to stretching out the game to send the refs on a call to New York to make sure their bosses tell them what the right call should be.