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NFL passes rule allowing refs to consult with officials on replay

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

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ORLANDO -- The NFL owners passed a rule proposal on Tuesday at the 2014 owners meetings that will allow the officiating department to consult on replay reviews. Additionally, the owners passed a rule that expands the definition of a roll-back block.

The rule that expands replay review, though, is by far the biggest news. What it means is officials, when they go under the hood, will have discussions with the NFL officiating department in New York to consult on whatever play is in question.

Rams coach and Competition Committee Chairman Jeff Fisher said prior to the owners meetings that "the process will be the same" even though there's now someone from New York in the officials' ears.

"The process will be the same. The replay review will be initiated by the booth, depending on what happens on the field, or by the coach," Fisher said. "The referee will go to the booth and talk to the observer, but during that process, our command center in New York headed by Dean Blandino will already be reviewing the play. At the end of the day, what's going to happen is we're going to make sure that every single review is correct and we feel like this will speed up the instant replay process and timing."

All replays will also now be reviewed by HQ in New York. (USATSI)
All replays will also now be reviewed by HQ in New York. (USATSI)

NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino echoed Fisher's statements on Monday at the owners' meetings while noting that the ref under the hood will have "ultimate authority."

“It's still referee review. He has the ultimate authority," Blandino said. "We're certainly not going to let him make a mistake but the referee has the final call. We have a discussion, we'll consult, we'll give him the information and put him in the right position to make the right call."

It's a smart step for the league because it helps to remove some of the pressure that comes with going under the hood for officials, but it doesn't take the leap to centralized review.

Surely if someone at the league office feels strongly that a play should be ruled one way or the other, that input will be provided.

Protecting players legs

Proposal 8, as Rich McKay detailed prior to the owners' meeting, extends protection to players rolling up on another player's legs to the side as well.

"All it does is extend -- we granted what we call ‘roll-up' protection or protection from players rolling up the back of a player's legs -- we're going to extend that protection from the back to the sides," McKay said. "It really just takes Rule 12, Section 2, Article 1 and inserts the two words that say ‘or side' right next to where it says the blocker cannot roll up on the back of the legs of a defender. It will now say 'roll up on the back or side of the legs of a defender.' We saw some plays on tape that we just felt like we needed to expand that protection."

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