NFL plans wireless communication between officials

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Starting this season, NFL officials will have an easier way to communicate with each other during games.

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino told Peter King of TheMMQB.com that the league has developed a communication system that allows the officials to talk to each other even when they’re far apart on the field.

“We’re going to implement an official-to-official communications system, so all seven officials can communicate wirelessly,” Blandino said. “Each official will have an earpiece, a microphone, and just a little radio pack where they can communicate in a closed system, encrypted.”

Officials may still huddle up and get together to discuss close calls. But the advantage to the new technology will be that officials can talk to each other just before the ball is snapped, to make sure everyone knows which area of the field and which players he should be watching.

“We’ve tested this the last two years, and we feel it gives us better communication, more efficient communication pre-snap—when you’re talking about coverages, especially downfield when you have three downfield officials,” Blandino said. “Who’s covering what receiver? Now they read the formation, they decide which receiver they’re going to cover, but there’s no check and balance. They’re 30, 40 yards away from the other officials they might need to talk to. Now they can communicate. I’ve got the widest guy, I’ve got the second guy inside.”

It also helps that when an official calls pass interference downfield, he doesn’t need to run all the way to the referee, who might be 50 yards away, to communicate it. He can just stay where he is and tell the ref the call.

Still up for debate at the league meeting is whether the owners will also vote to allow the league’s officiating office to assist the referee in determining instant replays. But the communications among the officials on the field will definitely be streamlined.