Let’s Get Rid of It--This Instant

The Washington Post

Who’s kidding whom with Instant Replay? It doesn’t work. Get rid of it.

Instant Replay is an example of too much dependence upon tech . . .

(Whoa! Hold on there, Hoss. Before we run the next paragraph, there may be some question on that last one. Let’s see a replay on it.)

“Who’s kidding whom with Instant Replay? It doesn’t work. Get rid of it.”


(OK, how many angles do we have? I’ve seen it from the end zone, from the sky cam, from the sideline, from the private feed to Brent and Irv in New York, and from the blimp. I’m going to have to let it stand, unless there’s something new on the reverse angle. I don’t see the indisputable visual evidence we need to overrule it. How much time have we taken already on this, six minutes? Not so bad. Two more and we could’ve microwaved a 10-pound turkey. Call the zebras down on the field--assuming they haven’t frozen to death while they waited--and tell them the replay is inconclusive.)

Can I go on now?

(Wait! NASA just phoned. They’re faxing us another angle from the weather satellite. Gee, I’m going to need a magnifying glass for this one. Somebody get me a magnifying glass. And while you’re up, if it isn’t too much trouble, how about some nachos, too? Shouldn’t take more than five minutes. I’ll wait.)

Can I please go on? The readers are losing interest.


(They’ll wait. They always wait for the NFL. Hmmm, this satellite photo doesn’t look indisputable either. It’s fuzzy. Is this a bomb site or the inside of Kosar’s knee? Any other angles? Anybody with a home movie? A Polaroid? Okay, someone wake the fans, and let the guy writing the column continue.)

That’s why, dammit. That’s why.

It takes too long.

And most of the time it doesn’t change anything.


Instead of referees making a few bad calls, and fans wondering how bad the calls really were, now you have referees making a few bad calls, the TV replay showing you how bad they were--and replay officials determining there’s no “indisputable visual evidence,” so the calls have to stand.

What do they need, a signed confession?

You held him, son, you know it, the whole world knows it, sign here.

No way. I’m waiting for the super slo-mo.


Of course there’s no indisputable visual evidence. Every different camera spins a different version of the truth, often contradictory. Replay officials can wait until Hell freezes over for indisputable visual evidence. If it was clear cut, if 195 different angles showed the receiver’s feet inbounds, the zebras would’ve gotten it right in the first place.

Thank Heaven we didn’t have replay officials during Watergate. Sam Ervin would’ve argued, “If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, face it, it’s a duck.” And a replay official would’ve looked the duck right in the eye and announced, “It’s inconclusive.”

Jim Turner played 16 years with the Jets and Broncos; he kicked well enough to become the third highest scorer in NFL history. Now he hosts a radio talk show in Denver. Here’s what he says about Instant Replay: “Originally I was for it. All players feel they were cheated by a bad call in their careers. But I didn’t realize the mechanics would be so oppressive. This whole thng is at a point now where it can’t be saved.