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CURBSTONERS Creed gives instant insight



Published: Tue, February 26, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The NFL official from Struthers said one-third of calls challenged in 2001 were overturned.

By JOHN BASSETTI

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

BOARDMAN -- Dick Creed of Struthers, a National Football League on-field official for 22 years and three more in the replay booth, commented on calls from the 2001 season during his appearance before the Curbstone Coaches Monday at the Lockwood House.

Creed, whose first year in the NFL was 1977, was asked about the two-part fiasco that developed into bottle-throwing by Cleveland Browns fans during a game against Jacksonville on Dec. 16.

Not only was a pass play challenge supposedly botched and not reviewed, but officials returned to finish the final 27 seconds amid a hostile crowd.

"Right or wrong, there's no excuse for that behavior," Creed said. "It just has to be stopped."

Dislike: Creed took exception to TV replays that gave the impression that a pass to a Cleveland receiver was complete.

In such cases, Creed said, announcers and slow-motion replays on a big screen make it worse.

"I can make a catch out of anything you want, that's why I'll always look at the line feed," Creed said of a television monitor replay that shows a pass at its normal speed.

"They do it so slow that it makes it look like he's got a catch. You've got to make all of your judgments on the line feed and whether that ball's moving. And that ball WAS moving. I can follow the ball and see that he's got it, he's got it, and then 'heck, the ball's loose.' "

As for the official being buzzed in time to make a challenge, Creed wasn't sure.

"I don't know, I wasn't there. He may not have gotten it in time. But you can get it late and still go back and review, even after the next snap. But the procedure was correct. They did what had to be done."

Command post: Creed's instant replay booth has a video technician and a repairman. The technician has a big monitor and Creed the same, along with six small squares that could bring up the area of the field in question.

"The coaches each get two challenges and use the buzzer system to alert the booth, but there's a time limitation. Some coaches like Bill Cowher and Bill Belichick throw out red flags to alert the refs."

He reported that one-third of calls challenged during the 2001 season were overturned.

"It does work, but it has its weak spots, too. Nothing's perfect. Coaches make mistakes, players make mistakes and, I hate to say it, but even replay can make a mistake because, sometimes we can't get the angle."

But Monday night games or nationally televised games use more cameras.

"If you screw up with 17 cameras, there's something wrong because we can get so many different angles just by pushing the line feed that works best.

Preferred method: "We like to sell a call on the line feed first because it's best. By slowing down that call in the Cleveland game, it looked like he had the ball clamped on his leg. But with the line feed, he never had the ball. We only time we use the real slow thing is to see if a second foot is in or on the line or in the end zone.

"In the beginning, I wasn't sure about replay. But as time goes on, you see the importance of money involved and how they're doing everthing they can to get it correct. The coaches love it, believe it or not."

The would-be fumble that was ruled in New England's favor in the Oakland playoff game was a prime example of an important replay.

"One call led a team to the Super Bowl," Creed said. "That's what replay is for."

bassetti@vindy.com




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