The NFL is deep in preparations to overhaul the way it receives video replays for the 2020 season, league sources said, a move that would require bolstering the in-house refereeing department as well.
The league expects to have the capacity to no longer rely on its television partners to provide the feeds of replays by next season and has been studying the process for months while also studying the way other pro sports leagues handle video replay. Currently, the NFL relies on the on-site production trucks of his broadcast partners to send them camera angles for video replay, but under this new format every camera angle available at a game would be visible in-house at central command in New York City in real time on an individual monitor -- in essence replicating what would be available to a director or producer on site at that broadcast.
The NFL's handling of video replay has been a controversial topic in recent years, with the one-year decision to allow challenges of pass interference further thrusting it into the spotlight. The league, particularly with the mainstreaming of sports wagering and with the NFL doing sponsorship deals with gambling entities, wants to have the best technology available, and this has become a major initiative under commissioner Roger Goodell, sources said.
Of course, having that much more video content available n real time will require additional training and resources to have sufficient staff on hand for game days, and sources said there has been a buzz at league headquarters about potentially recruiting former head of officiating Dean Blandino to help oversee it. Whether or not Blandino, currently an officiating analyst with Fox, would be inclined to return to the league is unknown, but several league sources indicated they would not be surprised if the NFL made an attempt to bring him back.
The league eventually will decide between several different companies that specialize in the kind of technology required to revamp how central officiating operates on game day, and owners will have to sign off on those expenditures. But the NFL has already spent considerable time researching all of the options and will also continue to explore other technology such as microchips in game balls moving forward, I'm told.