So do you think Doug Eddings was sleeping a little more soundly last weekend, after watching the NFL Playoffs? Even if you were in the large camp that thought Eddings blew the Josh Paul catch/trap, one could see how he might have missed it. This is unlike NFL official Pete Morelli who actually had made the right call on the field and then reversed it. After that call, I was half expecting Peyton Manning to take off his helmet only for it to be revealed that A.J. Pierzynksi was wearing his uniform.
Morelli's crew were the same ones who earlier missed an obvious pass interference call that would have most likely sewn up the game for the Steelers. Oh and if you think all the calls went the Colts way, guess again. On one play a Steeler lineman flinched, which every official missed, but half of Indy's defense who came across the line of scrimmage pointing, did not. The decision on this issue by the crew was "la la la, that whole play didn't happen, la la la, time for a do-over.
Morelli, unlike Eddings, never had to face the media glare after the game. What could his response been? I'm afraid no matter what he said it would have come out like one big "the dog ate my homework" excuse. Considering Morelli is a principal in his other job wouldn't that have been fitting? As John Canzano writes in the Oregonian, "until the NFL begins using full-time officials in what amounts to a billion-dollar enterprise, the job of regulating the league's high-stakes games falls to the regular guy who has stumbled into a nice weekend hobby."
Considering the NFL is all about TV ratings, here's my suggestion on solving the official's dilemma. Whenever a coach asks for a review, instead of having a referee look it over, have a panel of 3 judges just like American Idol. One judge would be a former referee, the second judge would be a foxy babe, and the final judge would be a sassy former player like Kordell Stewart. (Yeah, I know he's still in the league, but he hasn't thrown a pass in 2 years.)
Can you imagine the excitement this would bring? The NFL has been trying to get more women to watch and I think this would do the trick. Sample of how Sunday's controversial play would have been called if the review panel of 3 had been involved.
First Judge is former NFL referee Red Cashion: "The Steeler defender had possession before he fumbled and recovered it. Pittsburgh's ball. (Heavy southern accent) FIRST DOWN!"
Second Judge is Pamela Anderson: "Did you know I was discovered by Playboy at a Canadian football game? Oh, the play. The odds seemed stacked against the Colts. Oh and since I mentioned "Stacked", my sitcom on Fox will be moving to Thursdays in March. Oh yeah, my final decision. Now I like Troy Polamalu's hair, as its very rock and roll, just like Tommy Lee's. And I relate to many of the players, since a number of them are physically violent to their wives, just like Tommy Lee again. But I have to go with the Colts retaining possession, because I like their uniforms better. .
Third Judge is Kordell Stewart: "Pam, all I can say is you go girl. Now I used to be a Steeler, but don't think I'm biased towards them, as they dropped me. I mean I was Slash. When things were good, Coach Cowher used to kiss me on the cheek, but when I started throwing interceptions, he'd just yell at me. It was so bad I had a clear plastic shield attached to my face mask, not because I was afraid of being poked in the eye, but because I was tired of being spit on. It ain't right when your helmet has an accessory on it that is generally only used at a salad bar. You know its true Coach. So I go with Pam on this decision. Take that Steeler fans!
Ok, maybe my suggestion needs some work, but is it any worse than what happened this past weekend. I'm a big proponent of instant replay in the NFL, but it must be stated that overturning a call on the field can only happen if there is clear-cut evidence that it was wrong in the first place. If something isn't done to create more uniformity in the replay system, it will lose favor with the league and fans. Just like a bad call without replay hurts the game, a bad call with replay does the same. Considering that the NFL tries to keep all gambling references away from its beloved game, they need to do something to solve the inconsistency in the replay booth. Feel free to use my suggestion if you like.