NFL owners won’t vote this week on two rule proposals that would have established “sky judge” positions for the 2020 season, a source told ESPN.
There is still a possibility, however, that the league will stage an experiment that would allow for expanded communication between replay assistants in the booth and referees on the field.
The decision was largely a matter of semantics. Neither of the two rule proposals, one to establish a booth umpire and the other to create a senior technology advisor to the referee, were expected to pass. Submitted jointly by the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers, they were not endorsed by the league’s competition committee.
The committee did recommend a preseason experiment, one that could still take place based on summer logistics that remain uncertain because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The sky judge idea was the latest in the NFL’s attempts to find a safety net to correct egregious officiating mistakes that might not be subject to the traditional confines of replay review. The league added pass interference calls and no-calls to review in 2019, but that experiment failed and will not be renewed for 2020.
Owners will gather for a videoconference call Thursday to consider the remaining rule changes, which most notably include an alternative to the onside kick submitted by the Philadelphia Eagles. The rule would allow teams two opportunities per game to take the ball at their 25-yard line instead of kicking off after a score. The team would have one play to gain at least 15 yards and maintain possession.
Owners will also debate proposals to expand defenseless player protection to kickoff and punt returners, as well as to close a loophole that allowed teams to commit consecutive dead ball penalties to intentionally drain time off the clock.
ESPN’s Dianna Russini contributed to this report.