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NFL will get help from an officiating command center this season

NFL will get help from an officiating command center this season
Referee Al Riverson steps out of the instant-replay tent during an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the Cleveland Browns in December 2012. (Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

ORLANDO — The NFL will have an extra set of eyes this season to help determine calls on controversial plays.

League owners voted Tuesday to allow referees to consult with an officiating command center at NFL headquarters in New York during replay reviews.

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Dean Blandino, the league's head of officiating, will be available to communicate with referees in real time during reviews, although the on-field official will have final say over the calls.

"It's still referee review," said Blandino, at the league's annual meetings. "He has the ultimate authority. We're going to consult, and we'll come to a consensus. We're certainly not going to let him make a mistake, but the referee still has the final authority on the calls."

The league also made a tweak to a rule that bans "roll-up" blocks from behind. It's now illegal, too, to roll up the side of a player's leg, a significant concern for linemen in the trenches.

Finally, players will no longer be allowed to dunk the ball over the goal-post crossbar, a popular celebration. That should eliminate problems such as the one in Atlanta, when New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham knocked the goal post off kilter with a dunk.

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