With the NFL hiring up to 24 full-timers from a pool of 124 officials, the league finally has taken a step toward making all officials full-time employees. The half (more like 20 percent) measure will put the league in a potentially awkward spot, however.
Here’s a great point raised by Dan Patrick during a Thursday morning visit with his well-listened-to radio (and well-watched TV) show: What happens when an official makes a mistake and the first question becomes, “Is that a full-time or part-time official?”
To the extent that the NFL is embracing the concept of full-time officials to reduce mistakes, mistakes made by part-time officials immediately will become more glaring. Which will immediately create even more pressure to make more of the 124 officials full-time employees.
Eventually, they’ll all be full-timers. And it’ll happen before gambling on football becomes legalized. No matter what the league says, the truth is that the NFL has commenced the process of sealing off criticism and scandal that will be much more pronounced when an illegitimate call results in millions of dollars legitimately changing hands.
If/when that happens, there will be calls for an independent commission to oversee the sport, which is absolutely, positively the last thing the NFL ever wants.