The AFL announced they will be adding a sixth member to all officiating crews, and will now have replay and challenge capabilities for all AFL games, not just the NFL Network game of the week.
This is a huge step in the right direction for the league. Many fans, myself included, wondered why only one game per week had the ability to overturn blown calls on the field.
If you check out the message boards on ArenaFan and AFLFanZone, you hear all kinds of stories about how officials miss routine plays like field goals, and spot the ball wrong on touchbacks. These kind of mistakes greatly undermine the credibility of the league.
This qualified as "Down by contact" last year.
In a game that brags about how actually getting a defensive stop can make a huge difference, it's just not fair to miss turnovers because an official ruled it an incomplete pass on the field.
One game in particular last season saw the Cleveland Gladiators get 19 points off drives that should have ended differently if the officials had gotten it right. That's a huge swing in this league.
Replay rules are expected to mirror NFL challenge rules, except that an AFL team MUST have a timeout remaining to use a challenge.
I asked Chris Siegfried, head coach of the Pittsburgh Power, what he thought about the new rules and additions to the officiating crew. He stressed that the officiating in the league is tough to do, and feels this is a positive change for the league. He also is looking forward to the ability to challenge plays.
In the end, as long as they get it right, that's all that should really matter.