Almost every week, an NFL game is guaranteed to give you something you have never seen before. While calling the Pittsburgh-Cleveland game for CBS last Sunday, I witnessed the impossible.
After the Steelers attempted a fourth-down play, the chain measurement clearly revealed that they had come up short. However, the official still awarded Pittsburgh a new set of downs. Without any explanation, the officials went about their business as usual, which left our broadcast crew, the fans and members of both teams wondering what just happened.
Several days later, a half-hearted explanation was given. Officials claimed the television camera hadn’t captured a pure straight-on angle of the measurement and ball placement. Upon hearing this, I went crazy. I contend that television allows fans to view a game in an up-close and personal way. Often times, television cameras will offer viewers an intimate look at critical and controversial plays. But in no way is the camera capable of moving the ball enough to create a first down or a touchdown.
When Broncos WR Brandon Stokley was awarded a touchdown in Monday night’s game against the Chargers, I once again reflected on how blown calls by officials can never be blamed on television angles.
I believe NFL officials are highly skilled and do a great job. This, however, doesn’t mean that they are perfect. When mistakes are made, don’t tell the fans that what you saw on television isn’t what really happened. You can’t convince the viewer that what they clearly saw with their own two eyes was just an illusion, and that the men in stripes are the authority on visual reality.
It has been said that the eye in the sky don’t lie. I believe in what I see, not in what you tell me. I also believe in the technology of the day. I’m watching a game in high definition, with the clarity to count the blades of grass in the end zone, so don’t tell me it was a first down. Even the guy on the bar stool in Pittsburgh could see that it wasn’t.