The NFL officiating department will help referees rule on instant replay reviews starting next season.
League owners passed a rule Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., allowing referees to consult with director of officiating Dean Blandino and his staff to help determine whether a call should be upheld or overturned. NFL officials said the change should speed up the process.
Blandino and other staff will be monitoring the games from league offices in New York, and they will immediately begin reviewing challenges before the referee even gets to his monitor. They can make recommendations on what replays to look at, but the referee still will make the final decision.
Rich McKay, Falcons president and co-chairman of the influential competition committee, called it "kind of a proof of concept to see how this works. We feel pretty comfortable with it, though."
"What we do like is we take the true experts in replay, those in New York, to be able to communicate with the referees who have the ultimate decision," McKay said. "We just think we get a more consistent decision-making process."
Blandino said the new process will be faster and make more eyes available to help in the reviews.
"We’ll be reviewing all the angles the network is providing, in essence finding what is the best reviewable aspect, and getting a baseline for the referee," he said.
In another change, players no longer will be allowed to dunk the football over the crossbar of the goalposts in celebration.
The owners also banned roll-up blocks to the side of a player. In the past, the rule only barred such blocks from behind.
Bills owner dies
Ralph Wilson, the Buffalo Bills owner who helped found the American Football League in 1960 and played a key role in the merger with the NFL, died Tuesday. He was 95.
Wilson died at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. Bills President Russ Brandon announced the death at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Fla. Wilson gave up daily oversight of the club on Jan. 1, 2013, when he relinquished the president’s title to Brandon.
Around the league
Lions • Safety James Ihedigbo agreed to a two-year contract with Detroit. Ihedigbo made 99 tackles and had three interceptions for the Baltimore Ravens last year.
Buccaneers • Tampa Bay is gathering information on an incident in which receiver Mike Williams allegedly was stabbed in the leg by his brother. Williams, who signed a six-year, $40 million contract before last season, was treated and released from a hospital for a thigh wound on Sunday.
Washington • Owner Dan Snyder says he’s creating a foundation to assist American Indian tribes, even as some in that community continue to assert that the team’s name is offensive.
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