Two controversial sideline calls in two weeks have provoked questions as to how the league should review close plays along the boundaries.
On Monday night, DeAndre Hopkins was ruled out of bounds on an early catch-and-run touchdown when it looked like his right foot had touched the white border; because the officials blew the whistle before Hopkins reached the end zone, the Texans could not review the play. In Week 10, Broncos special teamer Will Parks appeared to have stepped out of bounds on his game-winning extra-point return, but it was difficult to distinguish between his white shoes and the white Superdome boundary and the play was upheld upon review.
Following the Monday night game, NFL Network's Judy Battista spoke to three people familiar with the Competition Committee's thinking regarding the potential implementation of fixed sideline and goal-line cameras in the future so as to avoid these types of controversial calls.
"They have talked over the last few years especially about adding fixed cameras on the sidelines and on the goal line. They haven't reached a consensus on that yet," Battista reported on Tuesday's edition of Up to the Minute on NFL Network. "In talking to those people, they said they've been exploring it for just this reason. One person said, 'It's a big project, as each stadium is configured differently, but it's something we want to try to implement at some point.' This person told me it will come up again this offseason.
"A second person told me though he didn't have a real sense yet for what kind of support there would be for it. In 2015, the Patriots organization put forth a proposal for fixed cameras on the goal line and on the sideline and it did not get the required amount of support from owners. And at that time, John Mara, the owner of the Giants, who is a member of the Competition Committee, cited the cost and the different configurations of the stadiums as concerns that owners had. If you remember in the past, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has suggested maybe they could hold a bake sale to raise money to pay for these cameras, but that's something to keep an eye on coming up at the next league meeting in March."
Battista also explained that such cameras would not have changed the Hopkins ruling because the play had already been blown dead, as NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino explained Monday night and on Tuesday's edition of NFL Total Access.
"That's the rule," Blandino explained. "Once the officials on the field kill the play and rule the runner out of bounds, we can't allow an advance in replay. The theory being: we've killed it, we've blown whistles, players stopped and we can't allow an advance."
When asked if the league would eventually use tracking chips in footballs or lasers to determine the new line of scrimmage, Blandino expressed openness but also caution.
"There are certainly new technologies that we can explore. We just have to be careful with some of these technologies because it's not as simple as a football being at a certain spot," Blandino continued. "When was the elbow down? When was the knee down? So you have multiple things to look at. In tennis, it's the ball on the line; there is no other factor.
"So we just have to look at some of these new technologies and does it make sense for our game. And that's something we'll continue to explore as we move forward."