Today’s Illustration: Challenging The Call

Instant Replay chart.jpg  Adopted, Discarded, Adopted

On This Day: September 7th.1986 began the limited “Instant Replay System” for professional football — Chicago Bears vs. the Cleveland Browns

The National Football League first adopted a limited Instant Replay system in 1986-1992.

From 1993-1998 the instant replay system was discarded, though tested again in 1996 for possible use.

Then, beginning in 1999, instant replay was again implemented, and “coach challenges” were introduced — allowing a coach to challenge a decision concerning a play on the field.

In 2007 instant replay and the challenge system became a permanent fixture.

Facts & Information:

Early complaints were centered around the fact that the instant replay slowed the game down.

“In 1986, the NFL decided to test the power of the rewind button. Meeting in the spring of 1986, club owners voted 23 to 4, with one abstaining, to utilize limited instant replay to review officiating calls for the 1986 season. The device, until then just a nifty enhancement of a game telecast, literally was taken to a higher level. There would be a new man upstairs–a replay official seated in front of two television monitors.

The system concentrated on plays of possession (e.g. fumbles, receptions and muffs); those involving the sidelines, goal lines, end lines, and line of scrimmage; and cases of more than 11 players on the field for a given team. . . . . So the early format was a lot different to the one we know today. There were no challenges and real limits on what plays were subject to review.

More importantly, calls were made solely at the discretion of the officials. This led to infamous cases of replay use.”  — bleacher report

1999 — Introduction of the “Challenge Flag” is thrown by the coaches of football teams to indicate to the referees that they disagree with the call on the field.

The “Challenge Flag” is a red colored flag.

Only the head coach can throw the “Challenge Flag.”

A coach can only throw the “Challenge Flag” two times in a game.

An additional challenge is allowed if the two previous challenges were upheld by the referees.

The “Challenge Flag” can only be thrown on certain reviewable referee calls.

“Teams cannot contest a penalty call or the lack of a penalty call, even if the blown call is obvious. Most challenges involve the possession of the ball, whether a player is down or the spot of the ball. . . . Other plays not eligible for challenge are a score for either team, an interception, a fumble or backward pass recovered by an opponent or that goes out of bounds through an opponent’s end zone or a scrimmage kick that is recovered by the kicking team.” — sportsrec

The “Challenge Flag” must be thrown before the next snap of the ball.

When the flag is thrown by the coach, the referees are obligated to take another look at an instant replay of the action which just took place on the field to determine if the call was or was not accurate.

“The referee can watch all the angles that the television cameras captured. He can watch the play in slow motion, backward, forward and in still frame.” — sportsrec

If the coach’s challenge is upheld, the play is reversed.

If the coach’s challenge fails, a timeout is charged against the team.

If the team is out of “time outs” the coach cannot challenge a play.  A team needs to still have a “time-out” to initiate a challenge.

If a “Challenge Flag” is thrown with no time-outs left, a 15-yard penalty is assessed against the team.

Technically, the referee is allocated one minute to review the play and make a decision — originally two minutes were allowed.  Today the whole process may average more than 60 seconds.

The standard for reversing a call is “incontrovertible visual evidence” as seen on the reviewed call.

A “Challenge Flag” cannot be thrown once the game has entered the “two-minute” warning period.

instant replay and challenge system chart.jpg

Key Illustrative Thoughts:

• a coming day of instant replay
• people who have thrown the “challenge flag.”
• it is up for review
• throwing the challenge flag at oppression and injustice
• no “Challenge Flag” allowed
• not a perfect system
• referee error
• reverse decisions upon further consideration
• no reversals on that day
• upon review — it was a bad call
• a biblical “challenge-gate”
• all actions will be up for review
• the difference between what men saw, and what really happened — upon further review
• the decision on the field is upheld
• incontrovertible evidence
• human judgment calls
• officials can get it wrong!
• technology changes the game
• still people will disagree — if one came back from the dead
• the NFL — custodian of the rules
• won and lost by decisions about inches!
• not eligible for challenge

Other Information & Links:

January 2011 — “Challengegate”– “In their 2011 game with the Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers were faced with a 4th and 1 situation and decided to go for it.

As the Baltimore Ravens were unprepared for the 4th-down play, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh threw a challenge flag which challenged nothing but served to illegally delay the play, thus buying his defense a moment of rest and preparation for Pittsburgh’s 4th down play.

There was nothing remotely challengeable on the play. It was simply an illegal tactic that Harbaugh used to rest his defense without having to use a timeout. Harbaugh executed this same illegal move against the Colts in November of 2009.

In this instance, Harbaugh and the Ravens should have been assessed a delay of game. At the time, the NFL did not have a rule in place stipulating that once a challenge flag was thrown it could not be picked up without the loss of a challenge or the assessment of a timeout.” — yourteamcheats

In 1986 — during “Instant Replay’s” first regular season — 374 reviews and 10 percent resulted in a reversal.

In the 1999 season — 29 percent of challenges resulted in reversals.

In the 2009 season — 328 challenges and 126 resulted in reversals.

The NBA is considering experimenting with the use of the “Challenge Flag.”

What can be challenged?

Scoring plays
Pass complete/incomplete/intercepted
Runner/receiver out of bounds
Recovery of a loose ball in or out of bounds
Touching of a forward pass, either by an ineligible receiver or a defensive player
Quarterback pass or fumble
Illegal forward pass
Forward or backward pass
Runner ruled not down by contact
Forward progress in regard to a first down
Touching of a kick
Other plays involving placement of the football
Whether a legal number of players is on the field at the time of the snap
Note that the spot of the ball may be challenged in certain cases. In such cases, a decision to respot football is not enough to win the challenge; Only when ball is respotted AND ruling on the field is reversed by remeasurement, the challenging team would not be charged their timeout. — answers yahoo

One thought on “Today’s Illustration: Challenging The Call

  1. Truly amazing article when if you know him you know sports has never been about him and yet just read this. Wonderful to have you back Dr. ted

    Keep preaching


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