This year has had more games decided on the refs than any in my memory. To me this is a bad thing and although people complain about refs all the time, I feel as though people should be debating on possible solutions. Once we figure out a couple of solutions, people will start calling the talk shows with the ideas. That is how an idea is born.
That said... here is the problem. Refs are starting to become too involved in the outcomes of games. Lawyers are becoming too involved in shaping how games are officiated. What this solution is looking for are ways to take some of the game outcome out of the hands of refs and back to the players on the field.
Here are my solutions to the problem and I ask for people to suggest their own or debate the ones presented.
1. Instant replay should be expanded to include penalties. All instant replay rules stay in affect as is as each team gets the same number of challenges except they can replay penalties. Reason why is that penalties that include pass interference is only limited to the distance that the QB can throw the ball in the air. This could be a 50 yard penalty potentially and needs to be addressed.
2. Rules for pass interference calls should be limited to a minor and a major penalty. There is too much judgement call right now as to intent and there is a lack of consistency with calls from ref to ref. This means that they can still have some judgement input, but it can only be the foul assigned to a facemask... 5 yards for a minor and 15 for a major.
3. Knee shots are more of a problem to the money making potential of a player than head injuries. Head injuries cost the teams more money because of the lawsuit that they paid $750 million to settle. Fines should not be given out or huge penalties for inadvertant head shots when a player is showing good form for a tackle. Fines and big penalties should only be reserved for the player who spears or uses the crown of the head as a weapon and not for the player who hits facemask to facemask when making a perfect form tackle.
4. All players should be required to wear an anti-concussion prevention helemet. They exist and they work and it is a shame they are not required by the NFL because Riddell holds the equipment contract and doesn't make a good enough product. If the NFL is to give out fines, they should give them out to the makers of the helmet that was in use in the NFL and sue them to make a better helmet that actually protects the head with modern technical advances built into the helmet. This will keep players from fearing to play the game like it should... with good clean hits and good form tackles.
5. Take out all the grey area with pass interference, defensive holding, illegal contact and allow the defenses to play defense. All of these plays are either 5 or 15 yard calls depending on severity of major or minor and none are automatic first downs. It is so cheap to have a QB on the 50, heave up a pass and the call gets the ball to the goal line... cut it out and just go 5 or 15 and no auto first down on all these calls. It is even cheaper to have the same pass and a guy on the other side of the field gets called for illegal contact or defensive holding... limit the damage to 5 yards penalty for anything away from the play of the game. None are auto first downs and should ever bail a team out of 3rd and 35.