Amid spike in replay reversals, has process changed under Alberto Riveron? – ESPN (blog)

9:35 AM ET

Kevin SeifertNFL Nation

Close national NFL writer NFC North reporter, 2008-2013 Covered Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008

Clear and obvious. Clear and obvious. Does that phrase mean the same to you as it does to me? In a complex language, and amid the inherent subjectivity of human judgment, is it possible that one person’s clear and obvious could be another’s not so much?

So went my thought process in Week 6 when Alberto Riveron, the NFL’s new senior vice president of officiating, made what seemed to be the most aggressive replay reversal in some time. I wondered if we were witnessing a significant creep into on-field officiating and a new paradigm for how games could be decided.

Citing the NFL’s standard — there must be “clear and obvious” evidence to overturn a referee’s call — Riveron ruled that New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had fumbled a fourth-quarter reception out of the end zone. The Jets lost both a touchdown and possession in what turned out to be a 24-17 loss to the New England Patriots.

During the delay, CBS showed nearly a half-dozen angles of the play. None conveyed the full story of the ball. It was reasonable that Seferian-Jenkins might have been out of bounds before regaining control of the loose ball, but even sensible extrapolation shouldn’t suffice for a reversal.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins was initially awarded a touchdown that was later ruled a touchback after replay review. Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire

Had Riveron’s decision, supported by new vice president of replay Russell Yurk, signaled a new interpretation of the NFL’s replay standard? After all, Riveron’s two most recent predecessors — Dean Blandino and Mike Pereira — said on Fox Sports that they disagreed with the decision. Had we been

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