The NFL's Competition Committee is leaving Indianapolis with no firm resolution to questions surrounding the potential expansion of replay review. But the members have an idea.
Troy Vincent, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, told reporters Friday there is interest in exploring and a mandate to study adding a "sky judge" to officiating crews to help protect against egregious missed calls like those in the NFC Championship Game.
"When we walked out of the room, there wasn't dissension," Vincent said, per Pro Football Talk. "It was, 'This may have some merit.' It had the most interest."
Proposed by the coaches' subcomittee, the "sky judge" concept involves adding an eighth official to every officiating crew. That official, or the "sky judge," would be responsible for correcting "clear and obvious" calls from the stadium, not the league office in New York. Vincent made it "very clear" the league wants the game "officiated in the stadium," NFL Network's Judy Battista reported.
However, there are hurdles to getting this passed, Battista added. Among the questions surrounding this change are: From where does the league get these new officials? Does the "sky judge" have a role during only certain parts of the game? What categories of fouls could they be involved in?
These questions will be addressed when the Competition Committee reconvenes at the Annual League Meeting and presents its finding to the league's owners. For this or any measure to be adopted, it must have the support of 24 of 32 owners.
"To think we are going to be in a system where calls are always going to be corrected from New York or upstairs, I don't think we're close to that," Mara told reporters.
Vincent was more optimistic.
"We just want to get it right," Vincent said, per Pro Football Talk. "It is debating what that change is, if any. As we always say, the membership will tell us what they want to do, not the league.
"The feel I get is some kind of adjustment is there. What it is, I'm not certain. But there was enough here to say there's some kind of adjustment that we need."