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NFL plans wireless communication between officials

Officials Getty Images

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.

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17 Responses to “NFL plans wireless communication between officials”
  1. jetsfmleveryday says: Mar 24, 2014 8:46 AM

    A whole new way to mess up calls… Innovation!!!

  2. superslugg says: Mar 24, 2014 8:46 AM

    good, now if they can just add an electronic means for calling timeouts and throwing challenge flags so there’s no way a ref “can’t see it”

  3. infectorman says: Mar 24, 2014 8:50 AM

    Multi Billion 4 industry and they’re just now jumping on the wireless com bandwagon?
    sheeeshh

  4. ✦ Pittsburgh is the City of Champions ✦ says: Mar 24, 2014 8:58 AM

    Belicheck just enrolled into a WiFi security course.

  5. getyourownname says: Mar 24, 2014 9:01 AM

    Over-under on how many games before some hacker intercepts and alters a message?

  6. sketchydave says: Mar 24, 2014 9:04 AM

    Almost as if it’s 2014.

  7. zerocool62 says: Mar 24, 2014 9:05 AM

    this is a pretty good idea, although is it for ease of communication or ease of hips and knees? since the Refs are often many things but sprite they are not.

  8. questionableprovenance says: Mar 24, 2014 9:06 AM

    Another advantage: the league can claim that the officials conferred on a botched call regardless of the truth.

  9. trevor123698 says: Mar 24, 2014 9:16 AM

    it really is rigged and it is right in front of your eyes

  10. onearmsteven says: Mar 24, 2014 10:00 AM

    wireless communication in 2014, wow!

  11. mrsryansfamoustoejam says: Mar 24, 2014 10:26 AM

    The league got a deal on some prepaid text-capable flip phones at 7-11 for the refs. It was Jerry Jones idea since he like his so much.

  12. FoozieGrooler says: Mar 24, 2014 10:33 AM

    Oh that’ll be a hoot the first time one of them forgets to turn off his mike…

  13. gf2711 says: Mar 24, 2014 10:39 AM

    So over/under 1.5 years until the $NFL starts selling a subscription service to referee communications audio?

  14. afcdomination says: Mar 24, 2014 11:18 AM

    its a good idea. should have already had it. yes it will increase the “rigged” comments. unfortunately that and the concern with head injuries in a PC world will be the downfall, not too much football, that is where I think Cuban got it wrong. I think we all would love more, give us a farm league. the issue comes when the public begins to not believe its genuine

  15. kneelbeforesod says: Mar 24, 2014 11:24 AM

    Good. I prefer that they be united in their efforts when botching a call.

  16. xinellum says: Mar 24, 2014 11:51 AM

    A reasonable IT person worth his/her salary can hack any wireless system as there are only so many allowable frequencies and it all comes down to encryption and short of military type encryption technology, any home team can have someone sitting in a booth somewhere listening to every word said and advising his/her team in the direction the officiating is heading. Excellent idea but for every step forward, when you have cheating teams like the Patriots who may try to “jam” the frequencies or insert comments to direct refs, it is just another stupid idea. What is so hard about walking over to the other refs and having a conversation. What does the technology get us except saving the refs a couple steps?

  17. slugbaitspace says: Mar 24, 2014 1:25 PM

    Then the head referee hits the wrong switch by accident and uses coarse language with another official on live TV.

    Yeah, what could possibly go wrong?

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