The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 23, 2013

Just ‘complete the process’ already

By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News & Eagle

— As you prepare to settle in to watch the Broncos take on the Patriots tonight on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” be aware of one key phrase that should signal that you will have plenty of time to run to the corner store and back for a six-pack and not miss a play.

If you hear color analyst Cris Collinsworth utter the words “this could be interesting ...” bolt out the door, no actually, take your time, because there will be no rush as it means the game is about to come to a grinding halt while the just-completed play is under “official review.”

In other words, an exciting contest is about to be slowed down like an Enid motorist in a left turn lane holding up traffic waiting for that truck two blocks away to pass before proceeding, then deciding to wait for the entire traffic light to process back around from red to green so they can have a green arrow. Yeah, you know who you are.

Meanwhile, back on the gridiron with “the previous play under review,” we are subjected to countless replay angles in varying degrees of slo-mo, in order to determine if a player extended his arm across the first down marker before going out of bounds or whether a receiver has “completed the process,” which is something  only a receiver has to do as opposed to a running back who can just reach his arm across the goal line with the ball in hand and get rewarded with a touchdown.

However, a receiver has to somehow not just catch the ball but secure and lovingly cradle it like Rosie O’Donnell caressing a holiday ham (OK, sorry about that imagery) in order to “complete the process.”

Then, once the game comes back out of timeout after several minutes of Collinsworth and Al Michaels’ exploring every possible angle, the referee gets on the mic and we breathlessly await his words only to hear him say “the previously play stands.” Which means the instant replay proved nothing. And on the occasions where a call is overturned, seemingly half the time the viewer is left scratching his head wondering if the ref’s little hooded viewing pod somehow revealed something that could not be discerned on a 60-inch HD TV screen.

Time was when instant replay made sense. It was used to review scoring plays and change of possession. Now, however, it seems to get used for everything from determining which hash mark the ball should be spotted on to figuring out what that god-awful stain is on Bill Belichick’s sweatshirt.

Clearly, replay review has gone too far and gotten to the point of destroying the flow of the game, and usually for superfluous reasons.

Now, we have learned Major League Baseball is going to expand its use of instant replay, having apparently become jealous that football is finding a way to become more laborious viewing than their game. After all, they have pretty much had the market cornered on slow-moving games and are determined to take back their rightful place.

The difference though is with baseball’s leisurely pace of play, nobody will even notice a replay review delay. It will just seem like another stroll-to-the-mound spitfest, or the batter stepping out of the batter’s box to adjust himself for the 100th time.

But football, both the college and NFL variety, are meant to be played at a high-level of intensity and at fast pace, both of which are being seriously encroached upon by these incessant reviews. The solution? It’s time to cut back on the use of the reviews to truly critical moments of play, so that “completing the process” means actually finishing a game in less time than it takes to enroll in Obamacare.

Ruthenberg is sports editor at the

News & Eagle. Contact him at