The NFL has discussed making referees full-time employees, rather than part-timers who work in the NFL while also having day jobs. One of the NFL’s most famous referees doesn’t see the point in that.
Longtime ref Ed Hochuli said in an interview with 60 Minutes Sports that he already works full-time hours as a referee, and he fits his other job, as an attorney, into his off time from officiating. He doesn’t think he would put in any more hours to refereeing even if it were his only job.
“I am a full-time official,” Hochuli said. “I’m as full-time as the coaches or the players or anybody could be. If they said, ‘Ed, you can’t be a lawyer anymore, you can only do this,’ there’s nothing else that I could do.”
When Hochuli calls himself “as full-time as the coaches,” that’s a little hard to swallow. NFL coaches work obscenely long hours, and it’s hard to believe that Hochuli would still be able to juggle a career as a lawyer if he were really working as much as coaches do.
But there is something to be said for the idea that changing the status of the referees from “part-time” to “full-time” wouldn’t really change much of anything. The NFL is already paying Hochuli $200,000 a year, and Hochuli and the other officials are already working long hours studying the rules and preparing for games. If making the refs full-time employees would make the calls on the field better, it would certainly be worth it, but Hochuli may be right that full-time referees wouldn’t be better referees.