Every once in a while, the powers that be on Park Avenue with the power to overrule on-field decisions at any stadium are tempted to use replay review as a fresh look at a play. The standard that is supposed to apply can be forgotten.
The on-court decision can only be overturned if clear and compelling evidence shows that an error was made. Previously known officially as ‘Indisputable Visual Evidence’, the bar was informally described as ’50 drunks in a bar’ would agree it was a bad call.
In regards to one of the most important plays of the Week 2 game between the Chargers and Chiefs, it’s fair to wonder if the league office applied the proper standard in determining that the on-field decision of an interception by LA Asante cornerback Samuel Jr. was wrong
It was a huge play. The Chargers were leading by 10. They would have had the ball at Kansas City 30. The road team could have gone up 17 points and sent the fans home early.
NFL senior vice president Walt Anderson told reporter Joe Reedy after the game: “What we’ve seen is that the the ball hit the ground and that he failed to gain and maintain control of the ball after it touched the ground. We saw the movement of the ball after it hit the ground and then the ground ended up helping to secure it again.
Anderson added: “The ball hit the ground as he was falling, and . . . he didn’t maintain control of the ball.”
But is it clear and obvious that the decision that Samuel actually took control of the ball before it hit the ground is wrong? This question was not asked. This question has not been answered.
This is the only question that must be asked, and it must be answered. What is the clear and obvious evidence that the decision on the ground was wrong?
In other words, would 50 drunks in a bar (watching on DirecTV so they didn’t have to worry about buffering) say it wasn’t an interception? I don’t think they would. Meaning that, although the decision would have been incomplete if the rules required no deference for the decision made on the court, the result under the very high standard of replay review should have been intercepted.
Here is another rule of thumb to assess whether the evidence justifying the reversal of the decision on the ground is clear and obvious. While Peter King and I were discussing the matter at the Live PFTI found myself leaning towards the monitor under my camera to get a better view of the critical moments in the piece.
That’s when it happened to me. If you have to lean forward to watch the play and determine if the call was correct, can it be “plain and obvious” that the on-court call was wrong?