As the NFL prepares to launch the regular season without the regular officials, the league will employ extra measures to ensure that the replacement officials will make good decisions, both before and after the whistle.
The league will use eight-man crews, with an extra official on hand to remain in communication with a supervisor from the league office. NFL V.P. of officiating Ray Anderson explained the approach in an on-the-record meeting with various NBC personnel at league headquarters on Tuesday.
Anderson said that the league will be using the same procedures that apply during the postseason, at which time the eighth official has a direct line to the supervisor in the booth. The eighth official then can relay information immediately to the seven officials who are directly working the game. If, for example, the officials are going to spot the ball in the wrong place or march off too many (or too few) penalty yards, the supervisor will let the eighth official know.
For Wednesday night’s opener between the Cowboys and the Giants, the league will be using a crew of replacements (with the onset of the regular season, Anderson said that the NFL no longer regards the officials as replacements) that is believed to be among the better crews, based on preseason performance. And everyone will be watching the officials, for reasons completely unrelated to the reasons officials have been watched in the past.