While there were no major controversies from the NFL’s new instant replay system in week one, there was a case where a head coach was given conflicting information when the New York replay command center reviewed a game.
That coach was Denver’s Vic Fangio, who says he was first told the Broncos would get the ball back because a repeat revealed that the Giants did not recover a Broncos fumble, but then told that the final decision would be to let the call on the field of a Giants recovery.
Broncos tight end Albert Okwuegbunam fumbled and Giants safety Logan Ryan got along the sideline. Replay seemed to show that Ryan was already out of bounds before he had possession of the ball, which would have meant the ball stayed with the Broncos.
Fangio says officials first told him he could send the Broncos’ offense back on the field because the replay showed the Giants had not recovered the ball thoroughly. But officials then informed him that the final verdict from New York was to let the play stand.
“They told me first – and you probably saw them talking to me all the way – they first told me it was going to be our ball,” Fangio said via the Broncos’ website. “They were just figuring out where exactly they were going to be placed and the timing element for it, and then he came back and said, ‘You’re not going to like this.’ The main boy in New York came in and said, ‘Let it go,’ and the main boy ignored the first guy’s verdict on it. “
“The main boy in New York,” to whom Fangio referred, is former NFL Referee Walt Anderson. Although others in the official office work on repeat reviews, especially when playing multiple games at once, Anderson is the main man.
Anderson’s decision to leave the ruling on the court – as well as his decision to leave the ruling on the court on a crucial Dalvin Cook fumble in the Vikings’ loss to the Bengals – suggests that Anderson will postpone the call about the field unless there is clear and unequivocal evidence that the call was incorrect. That’s what the replay standard should be, even though Fangio was not a fan of the way it was communicated to him in a particular case.