NFL replay has become a growing point of emphasis and contention as fans view games in high-definition with the ability to DVR and replay in slow motion.
Those technological aspects increase the microscope on officiating in the nation’s top sport. But the NFL replay center has its own technology to track games, see what viewers are seeing and beyond, and communicate with officials.
“What we do here is we monitor every game and we consult with the referee during a replay review,” NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said in a video showing off the replay center.
“(The software) has really made us more efficient so when I have to talk to a coach on Monday, I’ve seen the play, I know exactly the issue, and I can speak to it intelligently without having to go back and gather my thoughts about it.”
The NFL replay center is full with monitors displaying different information. One person in the replay center views each game on four different monitors.
One has the live network feed. Another shows what the replay official at the game is queuing up or looking at. A third screen runs the NFL’s software that helps the replay center track each game, with multiple angles for each play and the ability to enter information about any plays that may contain an injury, a close call or any other controversy. When a certain angle is selected from the options on the third screen, it displays in full-screen mode on the fourth monitor.
“If there’s a tight catch at the sideline, a scoring play, a turnover, they want to bring that to our attention and then we’ll come over and we actually start reviewing the play even before a challenge or replay review is initiated.”
The number and kinds of plays that can be reviewed and challenged are up for debate each year at the owners meetings, but the replay center is where the in-game decisions are made and the technology it contains is helping quickly shape those decisions for Blandino and others to explain why a certain ruling was upheld or overturned.