My Turn: Instant Replay

Los Angeles Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman breaks up a pass intended for New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. (Photo by Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports)

Time to put decisions where they belong: to each of us

While basking in a hot shower the other morning, I had my portable radio volume turned up to the max to override the swoosh of water bouncing off my shoulders. I was listening to Fox Sports Talk on 640-AM. The hosts take on any sports subject—usually something that has occurred the previous day.

The morning after the 2018 NFC Championship game, the 640 sports gurus had conniption fits over a critical play with one minute and 43 seconds left in the matchup between the Rams and Saints. The game was a nail-biter. With the score tied at 20, on third and 10, the Saints’ quarterback, Drew Brees, threw a pass to receiver Tommylee Lewis at the Rams’ 7-yard line, who was knocked down by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman.

There was no flag, no interference, no call—period. This has been characterized as the worst (no) call in NFL history. All the world saw the play, including the seven referees who said they didn’t. Never saw it—all seven. This flimsy excuse should alone be the reason none of them referee again; not one of them came forward to call pass interference. The broadcast networks tape every play and deploy instant replay to review questionable ones, plus coaches’ challenges. However, to the surprise of everyone, there was no review of obvious pass interference, and the Rams eked out a 26-23 victory. If instant replay wasn’t used in this game, then I say we just eliminate it and leave decisions up to the mortal human beings who make them.

Let’s face it: to make a mistake is human, and the no-call in the Saints game was a big one, illuminated for all the world to see. Every one of those referees, like the rest of us, must live with the consequences of making a bad decision. Like me: I don’t have instant replay in my life—and I wish I did. I’d love it for some of the decisions I’ve made; I’m my own referee, and I’d jump at the chance for a do-over now and then.

The bad news is the world doesn’t work that way. At birth you are given the gift of free will, the ability to choose between alternative courses of action. Bottom line, don’t blame your poor decision-making on others. A man I once worked for told me, “Reasoned thought should precede judgment.” In other words, carefully examine the alternatives presented, ask questions and then make the decision that best meets your objective.

We all pay for the bad decisions we make. None of us can escape the onus of a choice that goes south. It’s painful, the emotional price tears you up inside, you go to sleep berating yourself. There is nothing anyone can do but learn from bad decisions and take responsibility and ownership for them. As radio commentator Neal Boortz reminds us, “The key to accepting responsibility for your life is to accept the fact that your choices, every one of them, are leading you inexorably to either success or failure, however you define those terms.”

Forget instant replay; let’s face the consequences of human error. That’s truly the essence of living.

This story is from the July/August 2019 issue of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.