The History of Instant Replay in the NFL

June 8, 2013   ·     ·   Jump to comments

On September 7th, 1986, instant replay was used for the first time in an NFL regular-season game. The contest pitted the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Chicago Bears, against the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns had a play reviewed. The initial example of instant replay in action was described by author Ken Thomas in his review of the 1986 season, written for UK television station Channel 4:
The league's use of instant replay was called into action on only the third play of the game between Cleveland and the reigning Super Bowl Champion Bears. Cleveland safety Al Gross recovered possession in the Chicago end zone after a bad snap from center Jay Hilgenberg. The officials on the field said, 'maybe,' and the man in the booth said 'yes.'
(taken from Ken Thomas, American Football Book 5, page 10, MacDonald Queen Anne Press, 1987)
That was how that inaugural replay played out, and you can see a video clip of the call here, courtesy of NFLFilms.NFL.com. Having the s...

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