Source: Officials didn't ask for the umpire to be moved

Former NFL V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira, who now covers NFL rules and the enforcement of them for FOX, recently explained that he believes the league will tweak as necessary the rule regarding the placement of the umpire in the offensive backfield.

Pereira points out that referees and umpires will meet in Dallas on Friday, September 10, a day after the regular-season opener between the Vikings and Saints.  At that time, it’s possible changes will be made to the disputed rule.  (Of course, that won’t do much to help the Saints, if they plan to employ their quick-snap attack on offense against Minnesota.)

The former head of all officials expresses in his most recent item for that he believes the kinks will be ironed out.  And Pereira believes that the Colts have no right to complain that it hampers their attack, since Colts president Bill Polian was present for all Competition Committee meetings at which the change was discussed.  (Indeed, Polian voted for the change.)

And while the question of “what next?” provides plenty of intrigue, we’re still trying to figure out the more fundamental issue:  “How did this happen?”

A league source with knowledge of the situation tells us that the officials did not want the umpire to be moved.  Per the source, the officials believed that, if any change was needed, the umpires should wear a helmet and other protection against injury, and stay where they were. 

The source also said that, even before we suggested that the move came from lawyers concerned about possible liability, league lawyers were spreading the word internally that they didn’t insist on the move.

Truth be told, the rule as currently constructed highlights the league’s potential responsibility if/when an umpire is injured, maimed, or worse when positioned in the scrum behind the defensive side of the line of scrimmage.  If it’s too dangerous for the umpire to be in the box during the first 28 minutes of each half, the new rule shouldn’t evaporate for the last two. 

Put simply, it’s either too dangerous to be in there, or it isn’t.  In every other workplace, operational considerations don’t supersede bright-line safety rules.  And if they do, the person injured, maimed, or worse has a much stronger case than he would have had if there was no bright-line safety rule in the first place.

Pereira writes that Commissioner Roger Goodell has the power to scuttle the rule.  Frankly, we think he should.  As currently constructed, it’s both a bad operational procedure and a bright-line safety rule with a glaring exception that creates a known hazard for 6.67 percent of the total clock time of each game.

28 responses to “Source: Officials didn't ask for the umpire to be moved

  1. They were fine where they were. Not needing to move with the kind of money the Saints were paying them under the table.

  2. If we don’t say bye bye to this rule, we’ll be saying bye bye to exciting come from behind victories that make the NFL so much fun to watch.

  3. Tom “Please don’t hit me” Brady & the Patriots don’t mind either way. If they move him back they can go back to slanting Welker right at him to use him as a shield against defenders, and if they don’t he’ll just be that much more handy for lil’ Tommy to turn and summon roughing the passer flags at will… It’s a win-win for the rule-benders in Foxboro. LOL.

  4. The league is beginning to walk that fine line of tinkering to the point of ruin. First, it’s the overtime rule which is going to make football less exciting. Then, it’s foolish talk about forcing the NFL global, before it is ready. Now, they’re employing foolish changes for umpires that any person with a modicum of intelligence and analytical ability could see was counter-productive to another aspect that makes the NFL exciting.
    And, I’m much less worried about this negatively affecting the Aints’ quick-strike offense as much as I am the fact that holding calls could possibly double.
    But, if they change the rules AFTER the first game has been played, this will be a tell tale sign that the league has the wrong minds in charge because not only are the changes detrimental, but now they’re open to changing the rules AFTER the game has begun – something liberals and progressives are notorious for, I might add.

  5. It was never fine to have plays where the umpire is used to set a pick to rub off a defender. If the rule is turned back, then that tactic has to be made illegal and the umpire also needs to wear a helmet and some padding.
    I’m fine with the current rule, though, with the umpire in the offensive backfield. The offense needs to only wait about 1 second more than it did before, so the whines of Manning and Polian are stupid.

  6. This isn’t the first time that Pereira demonstrates faulty reasoning. Just because Bill Polian was present at a Competition Committee meeting that voted for this rule change DOES NOT mean that elite QBs don’t have a right to complain about it. The rule was implemented BEFORE it was bug-tested. The whole idea of having Pereira give his two cents in a column as if his judgment matters is foolish. He doesn’t play the game, and doesn’t even officiate games. Now he is just a retired set of eyes who sees no more than the rest of us see: a faulty rule.

  7. Option A, dress the umpire in full gear including eye black.
    Option B, suspend him in a harness and lower him down to spot the ball and zip him back up in the rafters…
    Okay so option B sucks more than the current situation. They still need to fix it.

  8. FloriosHairHat – what rule benders?
    The Colts should adapt their game to the rest of the league, not force-feed changes that make their no-huddle attack immune to defense.

  9. Keep the rule! Nobody cares what Florio wants! I am in favor of anything that screws the Colts or the Saints.

  10. “If it’s too dangerous for the umpire to be in the box during the first 28 minutes of each half, the new rule shouldn’t evaporate for the last two.”
    Or a better way to phrase that….
    If the umpire is in a better position to productively administer the game (You know, enhance the flow of the game, call appropriate penalties etc) by being in the box for the final two minutes, that production should not be hurt during the first 28 minutes.
    It blows my mind that the league is essentially admitting to putting an umpire in a less productive position for safety considerations. If it’s a safety issue, make the position more safe….. not less effective.

  11. Don’t worry – they can’t ruin football, just the NFL.
    There are other leagues ready to step up if they bollox this one up.
    Keep ’em in the wings.

  12. DikShuttle says:
    September 1, 2010 3:19 PM
    Don’t worry – they can’t ruin football, just the NFL.
    There are other leagues ready to step up if they bollox this one up.
    Keep ’em in the wings.
    Did you know that consuming five drinks is considered “binge drinking?”

  13. Socialists of the world please realize: the idea in the meeting does not always work out in reality.

  14. PocketStraights:
    What’s so unbelievable about what the league is doing here??? For God’s sakes, look who’s supposedly running this country?!?!
    This further proves my theory that there are way, way, WAY too many people in charge of decision-making at various levels in this country that have no business being in the position their in – which begs the question of how they got their in the first place???
    We’re all now just beginning to assess the damage on all grounds of battle. It ain’t pretty, but the triage and ensuing clean-up must commence at once.

  15. Operational considerations always supercede safety!! This is America and there is always a worker willing to take the risk.
    You sound like you believe there are still union thugs keeping people from working in this country.
    Well okay 3 unions are still around. American Medical Association, American Bar Association and government bureaucrats.

  16. Dearest Florio,
    You are never shy to remind everyone when you have predicted something that turns out to be reasonably accurate. But how do I know that you don’t follow this hypothetical sequence: you get a “scoop” from a “source”, and prior to reporting this “scoop” you predict said scoop, and then report the scoop as if was a legitimate actualization of you’re own brilliant forethought?

  17. Rhapsody – quarterbacks DON’T have a right to protest the rule. No-huddle attacks are NEVER supposed to be immune from defense, but this is exactly what Polian and company are fighting to get – they want the rules to where defenses are basically banned from stopping no-huddle offense.

  18. Meat Tuperello says: September 1, 2010 2:33 PM
    Option A, dress the umpire in full gear including eye black.
    Option B, suspend him in a harness and lower him down to spot the ball and zip him back up in the rafters…
    Meat, Jerry Jones woulda proposed Option B, but then they’d have to discuss rules on what to do if the ump is hit by a punt. (Besides, the ump would also get in the way of Jerry’s Jumbotron of Doom.)

  19. I’m reading elsewhere that the NFL is modifying the placement of the officials for this week’s games.
    Could you please report on that?

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