As Oliver Luck and the XFL try to speed up the game in line with their motto “Less Stall, More Ball”, they’re implementing more than just rules to meet their goals. One of the biggest developments here is the addition of the awesomely titled “Hawk Eye Sky Judge”. Per Oliver Luck
“We’ll have a sky judge, which will be an individual up in the press box with all the angles possible who can overturn a play within a limited time period. He’s given a 25-second clock. He has to move quickly if he sees something egregious.” –tampabay.com/sports
After a couple of straight years of controversial, season-ending calls in the NFL Playoffs, having a guy upstairs with final say seems like a good idea. The same Hawk-Eye technology has been used in soccer and tennis for years and utilizes a network of cameras positioned around the field to keep track of every inch of play.
This could be used to help dedicated line judges make spot calls and such. While the XFL isn’t going to slow down the game all the time with procedural flags and calls at every opportunity, they will be prioritizing plays with a threat to player safety, and the Hawk-Eye will let officials see such plays from every possible angle.
After signing former NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino, the league is on track to execute this new strategy well. Blandino spearheaded the NFL’s introduction to the instant replay in the 90s, so he’s got experience implementing new technology and concepts.
The XFL’s new Head of Officiating has long been a proponent of sky judges, and when the AAF used them last season. Blandino was on the front lines as the league’s Rules Analyst and Officiating Consultant. The biggest challenge here will be finding football minds with the knowledge and experience to work in such a role, but as the XFL is hiring NCAA officials to monitor games, they have a good pool to draw from.
Having eyes in the sky will help keep the game honest, while the 25-second window gives them just enough time to get a look at things without slowing down the game.