The blown pass interference call in the NFC Championship Game between the Saints and Rams could influence the NFL to add a “sky judge” to officiating crews, Troy Vincent, the league’s executive VP of football operations, said Friday.
“We just want to get it right,” Vincent said, via The Washington Post . “We’re debating what that change is, if any. As we always say, the membership [owners] will tell us what they want to do. The league doesn’t get a vote.”
The sky judge (which is used in the Canadian Football League) would be an additional official placed in the press box tasked with assisting officials on the field. According to Vincent, three main questions need to be answered regarding the potential use of a sky judge:
1. Would the sky judge participate the entire game or the only the final minutes of each half?
2. What calls can the sky judge influence? Can it overturn a call?
3. Are there enough qualified candidates for the job?
“Is it time?” Vincent asked (via ESPN.com). “Tell us, moving forward in the future of professional football, do we need to be looking at the mechanics? Are the [officials] in the right place? Do we need a sky judge? Do we need an eighth official, a ninth official? Does New York need to be more involved?
“Just coming out of the season, which was a phenomenal season from a competitive standpoint, you get your championship game, which takes the air out of it. May it be time? How do we prevent that? Understanding that officials, [will make mistakes on] judgment calls, that will happen. But how do we minimize it?”
According to Pro Football Talk, the NFL coaches subcommittee recommended the sky judge concept to the competition committee, which reportedly “initially didn’t react to it with enthusiasm.” But they’ve apparently warmed to the idea.
NFL owners are set to meet March 24-27 in Phoenix. The NFL competition committee can pose possible rule changes then, and changes would require the approval of 24 team owners.