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League wants scouts to help scout for officials who “look the part”

nfl-umpire-garth-defelice-fitted-baseball-cap_2 Getty Images

As the NFL and its game officials remain at loggerheads regarding the amount of green the men in black and white will receive, more details are emerging regarding the plan for replacing the locked-out liaisons for the league’s rulebook.

A velvet rope apparently will be involved.

Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal reports that NFL director of recruiting officials Ron Baynes asked all league scouts for input in locating college football officials and other football officials who had retired or been overlooked for promotions.  “All applying officials should be in good health and look the part of a fit and capable official,” Baynes wrote.

Yeah.  It’s important that they “look the part.”  Because all that matters to the fans watching at home is that the games when officiated by inferior officials look the same as they look when officiated by the best of the best.

Though we assume (hope) that the requirements also will entail something more substantive, perception is reality when the primary medium of consuming the content is TV.  Whether a guy is the smartest, most competent official in America won’t matter if he’s morbidly obese or if he has a pony tail (sorry, Marvez) or if he has a face tattoo (sorry, um, future Marvez).  The NFL needs the game to look the same, even if there’s an uptick in officiating errors.

There will be.  How couldn’t there be?  If the NFL already has hired the best of the best, the replacements necessarily won’t be.

But if they “look the part,” the rest of us may not notice.  Especially since most of the rest of us already think the best of the best aren’t very good.

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23 Responses to “League wants scouts to help scout for officials who “look the part””
  1. benh999 says: Jun 6, 2012 5:23 PM

    Come on, we are talking about commodities. These guys are not the same rare talents that players are. Finding experienced officials from other ranks and training them for several months should result in something very close to the quality of officiating from the regulars.

  2. upperdecker19 says: Jun 6, 2012 5:28 PM

    Jeez…you’d think Jerome Bogars, Ed Hochulis and Al Riverons grow on trees?

  3. discosucs2005 says: Jun 6, 2012 5:32 PM

    It’s nice to know the league has a solid, well grounded plan in place for just such an occasion -__-

    Seriously, people who think replacements will deliver the same quality are kidding themselves. Obviously it will be easier to replace refs than players, but it’s still difficult to replace the experience of refs who have been working NFL games for years with brand new people. Keep in mind not all football is equal in both rules and speed.

  4. frankdatank23 says: Jun 6, 2012 5:34 PM

    I’d like to get into this profession. I guess you’d start in the chain gang for NCAA ball. Any advice ?

  5. clawledge says: Jun 6, 2012 5:35 PM

    Ask the NBA if good officials are easy to find. NFL players are the best, the fans should demand the best officials.

  6. hawkforlife says: Jun 6, 2012 5:37 PM

    Come on, quote the whole phrase, it doesn’t exclusively refer to looking fit it talks about retired officials. I would assume you wouldn’t want some 60 plus, out of shape, ex official being hired and yes, fans would notice and not have much confidence in an official bending over at the 50 yard line sucking wind.

  7. tialen says: Jun 6, 2012 5:46 PM

    Lets face it, just like the dire straights of our education system in the US, unions make it very difficult to get rid of employees who do not perform well. I would say the same goes for the Refs.

    These guys are making 200k a year for a part time gig (20k per game). Of course this is a good ol boys club. I am sure there are plenty of equally quailified individuals out there who can’t break into this good ol boys club…I mean union.. I mean job..

    We have all seen the boneheaded calls that even a monkey could have gotten right under that hood, and yet, these guys still got it wrong.

    Bring on the scabs..

  8. schmitty2 says: Jun 6, 2012 5:50 PM

    Wow, I’m a Ram’s fan and thought we only got our butts kicked by other teams but based on that pic it looks like we got throttled by the refs too

  9. bearsrulepackdrool says: Jun 6, 2012 5:52 PM

    I smell a reality show in the works:

    “The Whistle” hosted by John Gruden

  10. thegreatgabbert says: Jun 6, 2012 5:52 PM

    They will end up with workout warriors. “Looks like Hochuli, refs like Mrs. Hochuli.”.

  11. cooklynn17 says: Jun 6, 2012 5:54 PM

    Of course, now all you have to do is look the part and not actually do the part. That’s why the officiating in this league sucks.

  12. Deb says: Jun 6, 2012 6:06 PM

    If Goodell were as concerned about the integrity of the game as he claims, he’d be addressing the league’s real officiating issues: an overblown rulebook and undertrained officials. What we need are manageable rules that are easily comprehended; officials who are physically fit, well-trained, and have plenty of time to practice together as a unit; and replay officials who work similarly to the NCAA’s system.

    But rather than address these issues, the league is dumping the woefully inadequate officials it has in place and replacing them with complete novices who look good in stripes. Swell.

  13. descendency says: Jun 6, 2012 7:12 PM

    I think you guys are under estimating how hard it is to be a referee in a pro sport.

    If those athletes are running at a high speed, you have to be a decent enough athlete to keep up with them so you can have the same basic angles (so you see the fouls and throw flags).

    Referees are great athletes.

  14. coolzog says: Jun 6, 2012 7:20 PM

    NFL fans don’t know how good they have it. Compared to some other leagues, the NFL games are among some of the best officiated in my opinion (aside from the odd ridiculous call that happens once a week).

  15. dfosterf says: Jun 6, 2012 8:20 PM

    That was a blatant facemask on Rodgers by the Cards at the end of that game . (Playoffs a few years ago) We all saw it. Bitter I am, bitter. All refs associated with that non- call should be fired and replaced. Bitter I am, bitter, lol

    Rice fumbled also, but I’m not one to keep a grudge, lol

  16. makimaguro says: Jun 6, 2012 8:24 PM

    Just ask the NCAA coaches – they can probably tell you who’s good or not. Their jobs depend on the calls officials make just like the NFL coaches jobs do.

    Players are either on 4 year contracts or a 5 year scholarship so if they win or lose it really doesn’t matter.

    If they’re worried about what the fans think then well!!

  17. bubbasmithguy says: Jun 6, 2012 9:27 PM

    I don’t understand what the problems is here. The refs in the nfl are absolutely awful. I think replacements would most likely improve the officiating and they won’t show the favoritism that the current ones do and actually call a good game.

  18. mjkelly77 says: Jun 6, 2012 9:30 PM

    The multi-billion dollar NFL needs fairly-compensated, highly-trained, FULL-TIME referees who are the best in the businees and on Mondays don’t go back to their day jobs as attorneys and gynecologists.

  19. fester986 says: Jun 6, 2012 9:39 PM

    @descendency You’re right, pro-level referees are often high end athletes when adjusted for age. I’m a soccer guy who does high amateur and am in the process to upgrade so I can ref minor league pro and semi-pro games. And that is where I max out as I can’t keep up with Division 1 college men much less the MLS game. I’ve worked with MLS refs and NCAA Division 1 men refs before, and they are either gazelles or a pretty decent 4×400 team. I’ve worked with a FIFA ref who has a very good shot at making the 2014 world cup, and he was a collegiate track star.

    Going back to football referees, the funnel from high school to low level college to D-1 college to BCS D-1 college to NFL is extraordinarily broad at the top but is extraordinarily steep at the BCS and NFL levels. There are not that many guys who have both are fit enough, intuitive enough (trust me, the best refs can explain what they are thinking when they make a call after the call, but the whistle/flag is already moving before conscious thought is involved) and available enough to work at the highest levels without an unacceptable levels of mistakes. And as it is, it seems that the NFL ref crews are much like competent starting QBs — the NFL needs 17 competent crews but as it is can’t find that number.

  20. fester986 says: Jun 6, 2012 9:43 PM

    @makimaguro Agreed, the coaches for the BCS conferences would be a great source for scouts to hit up to at least assemble a short list. After that, go scout four or five games and focus on the top 25 refs, top 25 umpires etc and break down their game hard.

    The next thing you have to consider is how many of say the SEC refs who made a short list to work as scabs in the NFL would want to do so? They’ve reached a pinnacle of their profession and going to the NFL means that their spot is being taken by someone else so next year, there is a chance that they are doubly out of luck and/or stuck paying their dues again two years in a row.

  21. noeffinway says: Jun 6, 2012 9:51 PM

    I bet the packers are shakin’. Could this mean an end to the favorable calls at Lambeau?????? OMG!

  22. str8cashomie2 says: Jun 6, 2012 9:54 PM

    Easy there on the “referees are great athletes” there

  23. bleedinggreenngold says: Jun 7, 2012 12:17 AM

    Guessing that most of the zebras take pride in the fact that they’ve achieved NFL status and won’t think they have it so bad after the league starts offering positions to replacements. That desk job doesn’t offer the same excitement and exposure…..They’ll cave before long.

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