NFL-23             5/26/99


The NFL’s new instant replay system for the 1999 season was demonstrated to NFL clubs today at an NFL League Meeting in Atlanta.

"Our goal is to take advantage of advanced technology to create the most efficient replay system possible," said NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE. "We believe we have developed that type of system. It uses advanced technology, but it is simple to operate. We did not want to bring back replay with the same system as 10 years ago. There will be a noticeable positive difference in the overall replay operation."

The NFL’s replay system, which will be used first in the preseason, uses digital computer technology, not video tape as was employed from 1986-91 when the NFL used replay to assist officiating. The new system affords quicker access to replays because there is no tape ("non-linear") to re-wind.

The system will be initiated by challenges from the head coaches (two per game) in all but the final two minutes of each half, and by the replay official in the booth in the final two minutes and overtime. The booth will operate under a "two-minute" mode the entire game, lining up replays of every play in case a challenge is issued.

"Every play will be examined in case there is a coach’s challenge," says JERRY SEEMAN, NFL senior director of officiating. "Every official, the ones on the field and in the booth, will be involved every minute of the game."

The four individuals in the replay booth will be the "replay assistant," "technician," "video operator" and "communicator." The replay assistant is the direct and only link to the referee on the field. In the final two minutes of each half and overtime, he will make the decision on whether a play should be reviewed. He will have a football officiating background, either as a former on-field NFL official, a recently retired college official, or a current NFL Europe League official. There will be 16 replay assistants for the season. The replay assistant and video operator will be assigned as a team to a different game location each week.


The system begins with the replay booth receiving a "live" feed from the network television control truck covering the game.

The "technician" in front of the live-feed monitor cues up the live play by pressing the "make play" button on his console as the ball is snapped. That automatically puts the play on a "touch-screen monitor" positioned in front of the replay assistant. When a replay comes up from the truck, the technician presses a "make replay" button and that automatically pops up on the touch-screen monitor. The monitor can accommodate six replay angles of a single play.

The "replay assistant" is positioned in front of the touch-screen monitor. This person decides which replays will be relayed to the field monitor for review by the referee after a coach’s challenge is issued, and whether an official’s time-out will be called for a play review in the final two minutes of each half and overtime.

The "video operator," at the instruction of the replay assistant, will tap the touch-screen monitor (similar to a bank’s automatic teller machine that prompts commands by the tapping of its screen) to transfer one of the replays to the booth’s third monitor that is positioned between him and the replay assistant. The video operator can control the speed of the playback on this monitor by the turn of a dial. This is the monitor on which the replay assistant will view all replays. The video on this monitor is what the referee on the field will see.

The "communicator" is the replay booth’s "eyes to the field." While the technician, replay assistant and video operator are doing their jobs, the communicator, stationed in back of the other three, is watching the field. He will advise the replay assistant – who is busy viewing the monitor -- that "they’re in the huddle," "they’re on the line" and "the ball is snapped" so the replay assistant will know that the next play has started, negating the possibility of a replay. He will also report to the replay assistant if an official ruling (e.g. holding, illegal procedure, etc.) has been made on the field following a play that might eliminate the need for a replay.

The communicator also is the timer of the 90 seconds allocated to the referee to make a decision on a replay. Once 90 seconds are reached, the communicator will hit a red button on the console in front of the replay assistant that will automatically shut off the field-level monitor, signaling to the referee that the 90 seconds has expired and the review is over. The referee must then announce his decision.

If needed, the communicator will also explain a referee’s ruling to the TV truck and to the teams’ public relations directors in the press box for dissemination to the media.

A "buzzer system" will be utilized to signal the call for a replay. Before the final two minutes, the head coach will buzz the referee and replay booth that he challenges a play and wants a review. Within the final two minutes, the booth will

buzz the referee, calling for a replay. The head coaches will wear a belt pack containing a buzzer. When pressed, the buzzer will simultaneously signal the referee, umpire and replay booth that a replay is being requested.

There will be three replay monitors at field level in open-air stadiums. Two will be positioned at opposite 20-yard lines near the sideline wall. A third will be in a runway, for use if there is inclement weather. Two monitors will be used in domed stadiums.

As the referee approaches the monitor, his first replay will await him. His 90 seconds for a decision begins when he puts on the headphones that put him in contact with the replay booth.


COACHES CHALLENGE Outside the final two minutes of each half, each team will be permitted two challenges per game that will initiate referee reviews. Each challenge will cost a team a time-out. If a challenge is upheld, the time-out will be restored, but the challenge will not. No challenges will be recognized from a team that has exhausted its time-outs.
FINAL TWO MINUTES OF EACH HALF After the two-minute warning of each half, and throughout any overtime period, any referee review will be initiated by the replay assistant in the replay booth in the press box. He can initiate as many review requests as he thinks necessary, no matter how many time-outs the teams may have. No time-out will be charged for a review initiated from the replay booth.
REFEREE REVIEW All replay reviews will be conducted by the referee on a field-level monitor after consultation with the other covering officials on the play. A decision will be reversed only when the referee has indisputable visual evidence that the call should be changed. The referee cannot initiate a replay in any instance.
TIME LIMIT Reviews will be a maximum of 90 seconds, timed from when the referee puts on the head phones to the replay booth.
REVIEWABLE PLAYS The instant replay system will cover a variety of plays in three main areas – 1) sideline, goal line, end zone, and end-line plays; 2) passing plays; and 3) other detectable infractions, such as a runner ruled down not by defensive contact, and the number of players on the field.