Even the most well-intentioned NFL referees can fail miserably
An NFL instant replay system wasn’t put into place until 1986, and even then it came with significant flaws. Officiating couldn’t handle the tech, or often the gravity of the moment, and until proper training was put into place even a second pair of eyes in the sky often ended in failure. We’ve reached another crossroads in 2020.
NFL technology is so sophisticated and, by that definition, so advanced that officiating has every angle available. Because of this, it’s only natural to question the human element. Articles like mine point out the very worst of officiating on a weekly basis, so surely, even in the replay booth, they’re missing something. That’s why a replay as obvious as a non-fumble in Sunday night’s 49ers-Rams game takes an astonishing five minutes-plus to overturn.
In place of any honorable mention is this, the purest example of how too much technology is slowing down the game we love. There is no solution — we want our officials to have every resource available to them, after all. This is not the football tech dark ages of 1986.
Now, back to the worst of the worst — the calls that makes us claw our eyes out knowing that officials have the aforementioned I’m imploring them to use responsibly.
3. Kyle Fuller unnecessary roughness
You know the officials did an okay job this week when the first of three “tough” decisions is as borderline as this one. In the heat of the moment, it’s understandable why the official chose to throw a flag on Chicago Bears DB Kyle Fuller. Keith Kirkwood fell hard, like a tree in the forest, and even pleaded for the call after the fact.
However, one look at the replay shows Fuller lowered his shoulder and avoided helmet-to-helmet contact. While there CAN still be roughness on the play without direct helmet contact, how exactly was Fuller supposed to make a play with Kirkwood running directly at him? Gently push him to the ground?
There will forever be controversy on calls like these, and every fanbase constantly thinks they’ve been wronged every time a defender on their side decides to lay down the boom. Often, it’s for naught, and completely unnecessary. In Fuller’s case, though, an argument can (and should) be made that he was merely trying to get Kirkwood to the ground in a timely manner, rather than risk being bullied over for another five yards.