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SportsColumnistsNeil Best

It’s time to press pause on instant replay review across all sports

Absurd reversal of Seferian-Jenkins’ apparent touchdown was the last straw.

Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins makes a catch

Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins makes a catch in the end zone that originally was ruled a touchdown, a call that was reversed after a replay review. Photo Credit: Lee S Weissman

Replay review in sports was worth a try. It was a noble experiment, one that had to be explored.

That’s the way it is with technological developments. There is no holding them back, so human beings need to see how they might help make our lives better, which they often do. But sometimes they don’t, which requires a reset.

HDTV? Yes. 3D TV? No. Google? Yes. Google Glass? No. Can openers? Yes. Electric can openers? No.

Speaking of which, using video to officiate sports events predictably opened up a can of worms that on Sunday turned into an infestation requiring immediate fumigation.

In short: It’s over, at least until we can rethink the entire mess. Every sports league at every level must eliminate the use of replay reviews effective at the end of their current seasons.

The last straw came in an end zone of MetLife Stadium, where Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins executed a play against the Panthers that 99.4 percent of lucid people over the age of 2 would call a “catch.”

This included the experienced, highly trained officials observing the play on the field.

But wait: A guy in a screening room in Manhattan noted that as Seferian-Jenkins landed on the cold, hard turf, the ball — while pinned to his midsection — wobbled slightly. This caused the pass to be ruled incomplete, contributing to the Jets’ eventual 35-27 loss.

It was insanity, a perversion of the original point of replay use, which was to avoid egregious, obvious, game-changing errors by officials.

In 1986, the first year the NFL used replay for regular-season games, there were 1.6 reviews per game, and 10 percent led to a reversal of the ruling on the field. That sounds about right.

That early system fell out of favor and reviews disappeared for most of the 1990s before making a 21st century comeback and eventually growing into the monstrosity we have today.

Alas, other sports adopted their use along the way, including baseball, where we have come to this: If a runner slides safely and easily into second base but in the process his back rises a millimeter off the bag, he must be ruled out.

No one envisioned these sorts of unintended consequences. Well, almost no one. Former Giants general manager George Young, who later worked for the league, labeled his folder on replay matters, “The Monster Grows.”

In 2017, it is threatening to swallow the NFL whole, creating longer games, disruptions of momentum and drama, ambiguous decisions and at its worst the kind of soul-crushing injustice that befell poor Mr. Seferian-Jenkins.

It was the second time this season that Seferian-Jenkins was on the wrong end of a pivotal review. In October, he was ruled to have fumbled against the Patriots, a decision that transformed a Jets touchdown into a touchback. But as questionable as that decision was, compared to what happened against the Panthers, Seferian-Jenkins was performing an elaborate juggling act that day.

On Sunday, he merely allowed the ball to do what comes naturally when a 6-5, 262-pound man crashes to the ground cradling a small, slippery ovoid.

Might there be a middle ground of the sort originally envisioned by replay proponents? Perhaps. But until the sports world can rethink all of this, it is time to shut it all down.

At least umpires Don Denkinger and Jim Joyce came by their famous baseball boo-boos honestly: As humans who erred in real time, something to which all of us can relate. It happens. Life and sports carried on. It’s just a game.

But bending over backward to call what Seferian-Jenkins did on Sunday anything other than a catch is not relatable; it’s idiotic. Let’s scrap this nonsense and start over.

New York Sports