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January 27, 2014

Answer to the Quiz

Super Bowl XXVI, Jan. 26, 1992

Art Monk over Kirby Jackson.png

Art Monk appears to catch a touchdown pass over the head of Buffalo Bills cornerback Kirby Jackson. Although the play was ruled a touchdown on the field, a video review overturned the call when replay revealed the Washington Redskins wide receiver's foot landed out of bounds. It was the first time a touchdown was overturned by instant replay in a Super Bowl, although the Redskins went on to win 37-24. [emphasis mine]
Tip o' the Stetson - SI's 100 Best Super Bowl Photos

It was also, by happenstance, the last game to use replay for seven years afterward.

Instant Replay was implemented in limited use in 1986. Limited in that only replay officials could initiate a replay and the scope of what could be viewed was considerably under-defined. Still, it was what it was, and for those who had been begging for replay to help "get the calls right" it would have to do. For purists, it was a time waster that only added commercials to the game without really changing anything. "Just wait," proponents said, "you'll see, it'll all work out, and we'll finally get the calls right."

Replay was here to stay.

Until the spring of '92, after that Redskin victory, when George Young, then owner of the NY Giants, put together enough of a coalition to block the vote to keep replay for the following season. The vote that year was 17-11, and rules required 21 votes for approval. Opponents of replay had won.

Or so it seemed.

1999 saw replay's return to the NFL with expanded, better-defined situations and plays for review, plus two coaches challenges in addition to any reviews the replay booth initiated. Beginning in the 2004 season, after much tinkering and debate, an additional challenge was added for instances when a coach had been proven correct in his first two challenges of the game. Much more tinkering and debate since has added automatic replay on every scoring play and turnover to the system we currently know as replay.

It seems to be an ever-evolving thing this Instant Replay. It started out just occasionally stopping the game to check a big play and has grown into not only automatically checking to verify every scoring play - even the obvious open-field plays when a defender is either not in the picture or several yards away - to coaches being able to challenge where the ball was spotted after a running play into a pile of 15-20 men with the hope/expectation/strategy of being able to move the ball an inch forward. All the while, as spd so elegantly put it:

"CUT THE AUTOMATIC TIME OUT AFTER EVERY TOUCHDOWN,DAMMIT. Why the hell should the scoring team get to dance around in the endzone and lollygag around the sidelines butt-slappping each other for five minutes after every touchdown? I know why, as do you: It's another opportunity for a TV commercial break. Cialis, anyone?)"

Yes, we all know well why. It's why there's a tv time-out after the touchdown. It why there's a time out after the extra point. It's why there's a time out right after that extra point we just back from a time out for, and it's the reason why we have a time out after the kick-off when we get back from the time out we just took after the point after. It's all about the commercials! All told, at least 10 minutes can go by between touchdown and first play of the next series. That's during the regular season. If I were a betting person, I'd be willing to bet that the average commercial time between actual score and first play of the following series pushes 15 minutes during the upcoming Super Bowl. Easily.

Baseball cracked the Pandora's Box of Instant Replay late in the 2008 season with something similar to the NFL's early version - big play calls only. In baseball's case, it was boundary calls. Two related to home runs - whether or not it was a home run and whether it was fair or foul; the other instance was to determine whether or not a fan touched a ball in play.

This 2014 season will see MLB jump head first down the rabbit holt into that technological wasteland *Wonderland* of opinion known as Instant Replay. Will it get the call right? I would like to think so given there is so much less going on around a play in baseball as opposed to football. Will it prove to be a good thing? That one goes next to "What do you think about the Designated Hitter?" in the annals of baseball debate. Will it make the game longer? It will certainly seem so as ad companies will quickly over-fill the air space while a decision is being made. However, they seem to have taken some good ideas from other systems for their first full implementation. I'm curious to see how the home plate ump is going to balance the tradition of letting coaches (briefly) argue a call and cutting them off by asking if they want to challenge. (I can think of a couple of umps who will ask the moment a cleat hits the turf.) Overall, it's going to be interesting to see how it all plays out over the course of this inaugural season. I'm also curious to see how many major calls are reversed and what, if any, difference in the outcome of the season can be extrapolated from those reversals. Good, bad or ugly, replay, really is here to stay. For those who still *tut tut* about the length of games these days, replay doesn't make the game longer. Commercials do.

Posted by DL Sly at January 27, 2014 02:13 PM

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I've recently discovered that if you have your TV connected to an 3.1 or 5.1 audio system you can yank out the wire to the center speaker and the talking football fatheads calling the game disappear almost completely (there's a bit of residual fathead mumble that emanates from the other speakers, but this can be easily drowned-out by repeatedly pinching a nearby kitten).

Posted by: spd rdr at January 27, 2014 05:41 PM

Was that discovery by accident? Or accidentally on purpose?

Posted by: DL Sly at January 27, 2014 05:55 PM

Which? The kitten part? That was on purpose.

Posted by: spd rdr at January 27, 2014 06:22 PM

Was there a kitten in there? Oh....all I could think of after reading, "...and the talking football fatheads calling the game disappear..." was I wish I'd known this before Madden retired and the rest just kinda faded away.

Posted by: DL Sly at January 27, 2014 06:51 PM