American Football: NFL votes for radical instant replay challenge system

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A SEASON littered with mistakes by officials has resulted in the National Football League voting to bring back instant video replays for the 1999 season.

NFL owners voted 28-3 in favour of installing a radical instant replay challenge system. A total of 24 votes from the 31 owners were needed for approval. The only teams to vote against replays - which were used as an aid to officials from 1986 to 1991 - were the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets.

"Part of the deal was to use it for just one year," said Mike Holmgren, the co-chairman of the competition committee. "If it's a good thing we want to keep it in. But the owners have committed to this just for 1999."

Under the new guidelines coaches will be given two challenges per game, with referees making final decisions from sideline monitors. Any challenge not supported by the referee will cost the team a time-out.

There will also be a replay assistant in the press box to review any controversial plays in the final two minutes of both halves and throughout an overtime period. However, the referee on the field will determine if a play will be reversed after reviewing the replay.

"The difference this time is no more will the [replay] guy in the booth make the decision, the ref on the field makes the call," said Rick McKay, the Tampa Bay general manager.