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NFL moves umpires to offensive backfield

Umpires in the NFL are on the move.

Chris Mortensen of ESPN is reporting that the NFL will permanently reposition umpires to the offensive backfield starting this year.

The change is being made for the safety of the umpires, who in the past had lined up on the defensive side of the ball, in the middle of the field and four or five yards from the line of scrimmage. Of the seven members of the officiating crew, the umpire has traditionally been the one at greatest risk of getting hurt in collisions over the middle.

Moving umpires will also prevent receivers from using them to help set picks on routes over the middle, something that umpire Paul King recently said the Patriots do regularly with Wes Welker.

Mike Pereira, the league’s outgoing vice president of officiating, has long expressed concern about the safety of umpires. He and his successor, Carl Johnson, told Mortensen of the league’s plans on Sunday. They said the competition committee had unanimously endorsed the move, which requires the approval of Commissioner Roger Goodell but does not require a vote of league owners.

Pereira said two NFL umpires suffered concussions in on-field collisions in 2009, and three suffered injuries serious enough to require surgery. Johnson said the league will re-train umpires at offseason seminars.

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33 Responses to “NFL moves umpires to offensive backfield”
  1. FloriosHairHat says: Mar 21, 2010 5:13 PM

    Nah, they just want a better view of Tom “Please don’t hit me” Brady so they can throw a flag should anyone get within arm’s reach.

  2. Martin Keamy says: Mar 21, 2010 5:17 PM

    now all of Ed Hochuli’s work is for naught.

  3. Bertil says: Mar 21, 2010 5:21 PM

    Wes Welker just lost about 30 receptions a year…

  4. Tyler says: Mar 21, 2010 5:22 PM

    I hope, they will then see the holdings against Freeney.

  5. azwildcats96 says: Mar 21, 2010 5:23 PM

    It’s the Belicheat way LOL

  6. CaptainObvious says: Mar 21, 2010 5:28 PM

    They just wanted to make it easier for Tom Brady to summon a flag at will.

  7. DirtMcGirt24 says: Mar 21, 2010 5:35 PM

    In other words, we now have 2 officials in the backfield to blow a play dead when a defender pulls a quarterback’s flag.

  8. CanadianVikingFan says: Mar 21, 2010 5:45 PM

    A good move. Something thats not always done by the NFL.

  9. PULL&SEAL says: Mar 21, 2010 5:47 PM

    Maybe now they’ll notice when a QB is being pulled down by his facemask during overtime playoff games in Arizona, and throw a flag.

  10. ICEWALKER says: Mar 21, 2010 6:03 PM

    So now both the Ref and the Ump will be in the offensive backfield? It should also remove the football-off-the-head-of-the-umpire blooper.
    Above link is a diagram of where the players and officials line up before this change.

  11. Setobakura says: Mar 21, 2010 6:08 PM

    Re-train the officials by hiring ones 30 years younger and who can run and aren’t obese.

  12. alexr5111 says: Mar 21, 2010 6:20 PM

    “Generic Tom Brady comment”

  13. edgy1957 says: Mar 21, 2010 6:27 PM

    A rule change that makes sense. I wonder how many in the media will risk the wrath of Belichick by calling it the Welker Rule.

  14. Deb says: Mar 21, 2010 7:28 PM

    @edgy1957 …
    Okay, that’s hysterical. Hey, MDS, why don’t you get that started? The Welker Rule.

  15. Doctor Connors says: Mar 21, 2010 7:45 PM

    They’re just jealous of Welker

  16. HarrisonHits says: Mar 21, 2010 7:47 PM

    Oh please, ALL other teams used the umps for picks just as much as the Pats did. Trying to make it sound like the Pats and Welker are the only ones who did is just bush league writing.
    MDS you are usually better than this.

  17. NFLMMAfan says: Mar 21, 2010 8:03 PM

    Belichick will have Brady avoid sacks by playing hide-and-seek behind the umpire.
    If that doesn’t work Brady will throw the powder puff pink penalty flag to avoid the hit.

  18. NYGIANT says: Mar 21, 2010 8:10 PM

    Setobakura says: March 21, 2010 6:08 PM
    “Re-train the officials by hiring ones 30 years younger and who can run and aren’t obese.”
    i agree 150% these refs are old farts get younger more athletic refs who can see and not ruin games

  19. iusedtobeteddybayer says: Mar 21, 2010 8:27 PM

    Every play should be reviewable. Please.

  20. edgy1957 says: Mar 21, 2010 8:28 PM

    # HarrisonHits says:
    MDS you are usually better than this.
    Yes, when he’s picking on someone other than the Pats, right….. 🙂

  21. Ravens Macg says: Mar 21, 2010 8:31 PM

    If you’re under 30 you won’t be smart enough to be a ref!!!

  22. edgy1957 says: Mar 21, 2010 9:08 PM

    BTW, for those of you who think that they need to replace the refs with younger ones, I expect that you must not watch much football because it isn’t just a problem with older officials. I’d be willing to bet that every one of you would get your head drilled by a Favre pass or have ANY NFL player run over you because you’re not even in the same league as these guys as far as speed.

  23. YawnFlorio says: Mar 21, 2010 9:23 PM

    “something that umpire Paul King recently said the Patriots do regularly with Wes Welker.”
    Read it and weep, Harrison Hits, you puzzy. Go cry with the rest of the puzzy Pats fan base. LMFAO!!!!!

  24. HarrisonHits says: Mar 21, 2010 9:51 PM

    All you do is show your own ignorance and bias with that comment. But hey, stupidity marches onwards and you are a fine example thereof.

  25. Dont Taze Me Bro says: Mar 21, 2010 10:07 PM

    The Umpire’s main job is to look for holding and since that penalty is now rarely called, they may as well get rid of the umpire completely.
    While they’re at it, they should get rid of back judges too. The referee can call pass interference 50 yards downfield. All he has to do is look to see if the WR makes the “throw the flag” motion then throw the flag. That’s all the back judges do now anyway.
    Defending the pass is nearly illegal in the NFL. You can’t rush the passer, because they allow the OL to hold. Then if you get there, they call you for roughing. And if the pass is incomplete downfield, they call you for pass interference.
    That’s why there’s no rushing anymore. It’s a waste of time. Any mediocre QB can light up a defense.

  26. covercorner7 says: Mar 21, 2010 11:58 PM

    The Patriots are cheaters!

  27. spyboots says: Mar 22, 2010 7:30 AM

    Welker Rule.

  28. Kevin from Philly says: Mar 22, 2010 8:39 AM

    Put the ump where he belongs – behind the plate.

  29. Deb says: Mar 22, 2010 1:29 PM

    Oh good grief, Pats fans really are big babies, aren’t they?
    MDS didn’t say the Pats are the only team to take advantage of where officials line up. He quoted an official–Paul King–as saying the Pats regularly do it with Wes Welker. Personally, I think it’s creative play design. More power to Belichick for having the wherewithal to use the positioning of officials to his competitive advantage. If the officials said the Steelers did it all the time with Hines Ward, I’d be happy to have it called the Hines Ward rule. It’s a compliment when the NFL has to redesign the game because you’ve outsmarted other teams. Steve Spurrier, craft old goat that he is, loves to do the same thing in college ball.
    You Pats fans might see that if you could stop whining for five minutes. Kleenex must do a bang-up business in Foxboro.

  30. patpatriotagain says: Mar 22, 2010 1:39 PM

    maybe they’ll see when two offensive lineman are holding when crappy qb’s make ‘miraculous plays’ in the last minutes of a superbowl (cough eli cough).

  31. footballnut says: Mar 22, 2010 2:17 PM

    We’re just now noticing that the Pats do this…again they are ahead of the curve by using what they are given.
    But there’s a few others out there that do this as well. It took a while for the Pats to use this as before Brady had a few passes knocked down by the umps with their head…

  32. Al says: Aug 28, 2010 12:57 AM

    If Ed Hochuli can move around the field and stay in shape, so should the Umpire. Get a mouth piece, some rib protectors, a helmut and a protective cup if necessary. (like hockey). If You are going to give the defense a break for the first part of the game, then why did you put the Umpire back in the original position with 2 min. to go each half. This is not fair for the teams that are ready to play, immediately. Have the line judge place the ball and back up to the side line. just don’t ruin the game anymore than You have already Mr commisioner of Football.

  33. BR% says: Aug 28, 2010 3:29 PM

    Other than spot the ball, what do they do?? To all Patriots haters out there. Go screw!

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