- Sportsbooks are taking bets on whether or not the NFL will institute a Sky Judge for the 2020 season
- The system was a success in the AAF during the league’s brief stint
- Sky Judge is necessary now that sports betting is legal in most states to ensure every game is played on a level playing field
NFL officiating is constantly under fire and it appears the league is finally ready to implement a system that ensures every call is correct.
Enter Sky Judge, an eighth official who watches the game from the press box and reviews every penalty that’s called, and the obvious ones that are missed. If he or she spots an obvious officiating error, they have the power to buzz down to the field and quickly rectify the mistake.
The proposed system was rejected at the last owners’ meetings, but the odds favor the concept being in place at the start of next season.
Odds NFL Institutes a Sky Judge for 2020 Season
Odds taken Dec. 18
It’s important to note that Sky Judge would be separate from the regular replay system, which would still exist since the on-field officials get most of the calls right.
Why It’s So Desperately Needed
Because the current system is broken. Coaches are only issued two challenges per game and if they blow those early, they’re unable to protest even the most egregious mistakes. For example, in Week 14 the Patriots were robbed of a clear touchdown and were left helpless since they were out of challenges.
this was ruled out-of-bounds on the field and the Pats are out of challenges to get it reversed
sorry, N'Keal pic.twitter.com/h6WhwVot50
— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) December 9, 2019
Because N’Keal Harry was ruled out of bounds, this botched call wasn’t considered a scoring play, and therefore wasn’t automatically reviewed. That sequence cost New England an important four points and it’s just one of many calls this season that have been blown.
The most famous officiating mistake in recent memory was the non-pass interference call that cost the Saints a Super Bowl berth last season. The NFL responded by making pass interference penalties challengeable, however, calls are rarely overturned, and it doesn’t protect teams against obvious officiating blunders if they’re out of challenges.
Sky Judge Has Succeeded Elsewhere
Sky Judge had a successful run during the Alliance of American Footall’s brief run. If an officiating mistake was made on the field, the call would be corrected quickly, without a lengthy pause in the action. There’s no need for long commercial delays or painful images of officials staring aimlessly at tablets. With so much at stake during every NFL game, there’s a bigger need to get every call right, especially with the legalization of sports betting.
NFL. Put someone in a position somewhere who can call down and fix these immediately. This isn't hard. It's really not. #FREECommonSense
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 15, 2019
Since the majority of states have, or are moving towards implementing, legalized sports betting, the NFL has a responsibility to ensure its product is fair. If bettors feel cheated by officials, they’re more likely to take their action elsewhere. Not only is the integrity of the league at stake, but in a world full of short attention spans, it would be wise to eliminate as many delays as possible.
The New System is Inevitable
The Sky Judge concept is a no-brainer. There’s too much money at stake not to do it. The NFL has the opportunity to ensure every game is played on an even playing field and they’d be foolish not to do so. Over the years, this league has made some truly awful decisions that have tainted its reputation, but not even they can mess this up. This system should have been in place for 2019, but there’s no way it won’t be implemented for the start of next season.