League will consider hiring some full-time officials next season


The NFL traditionally has resisted calls to make officials full-time, year-round employees.  As the NFL continues to grow in audience and interest and significance, the league seems to be warming to the importance of creating the impression that all reasonable steps are being taken to ensure that the officials get it right.

In a question-and-answer session with fans before Sunday’s game between the Texans and Ravens, Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league will consider hiring full-time officials.

“Consistency is exactly what every club wants, and I think every fan wants,” Goodell said, via the Associated Press.  “You want consistency in the way rules are applied.  We are contemplating this offseason taking some of those officials from the field who are now part time — they have other jobs — and making a certain number of them, let’s say 10, full time.”

Goodell also suggested that the full-time officials would be spread out on game day.  (If that’s the case, there should be at least 16 full-time officials, which would ensure the presence of one at every game.)

We’ve argued from time to time over the years that all officials should be full-time employees.  Even if the move reduces errors only slightly, the net effect will be a reduction of mistakes.

The problem is that making officials full-time employees will require giving all of them a significant pay increase, since they would be giving up their day jobs.  But it would be a fair trade; instead of having their minds cluttered with their normal responsibilities and the nuances of NFL rules, the officials could ensconce themselves exclusively in the articles, sections, examples, and points of emphasis.

During the offseason, the officials could focus on tactics for staying in shape, both physically and mentally.  They could officiate simulated games — even if it’s only a Madden-style computer simulation.

It’s a concept that is long overdue.  Even if mistakes will continue to happen, no one will be able to attribute the mistakes to the fact that officiating football games is a second job.

63 responses to “League will consider hiring some full-time officials next season

  1. They already make more money than the average football fan does! What in the world would a full time official make?

    They are like weathermen – can be wrong every day and still have a job.

  2. A lot of these guys are attorneys and the like. How many people are willing to shelve a law degree to be a full time ref?

  3. I’m suprised this hasn’t already happened. BTW do you see how fat and out of shape that linesman is for this Ravens game? He can barely spot the ball he’s so out of shape.

  4. “The problem is that making officials full-time employees will require giving all of them a significant pay increase, since they would be giving up their day jobs. ”
    OMG! You mean these guys have been getting paid?

  5. How a league with this much money and this much power doesn’t already have full-time officiating crews is beyond me.

    Pay 16 head officials $100k a year to get the calls right. No brainer.

  6. Absolutely needed. It’s not just the mistakes, it’s the consistency that is needed from crew to crew on judgement calls such as pass interference and holding on the line.

  7. so there are only 16 weeks in a season.you are suggesting a umpire can get “paid” for the other 36 weeks of the year when there isn’t a game….can i only work 16 weeks a year and get paid? and of those 16 weeks it is a one day work week? so basically the umps would get paid to practice the whole year a job they should know???? sign me up……

  8. The far more important thing is what they’ve always done, making sure they thoroughly investigate the ref’s finances. All ref’s are financially independent and debt free, from what I have read, which helps keep them from being tempted NBA-Style……

  9. I like the idea, but I would also like an official in the box to call a play the right way if they get it wrong. There were a few plays this year that were wrong and the whole world knew they were wrong, but the rules would not allow it to be called right. That should not be. Take the Titus Young TD that was called incomplete as an example. It was clearly a TD yet due to the fact Detroit had no more challenges they could not get the call overturned. Even though every player, coach, official, and fan knew it was a TD. That is the part of the game that needs fixed.

    If a call is wrong and everyone knows it is wrong then fix it no matter what. Do that and have one official with the power to call it what it was, and that will fix a lot.

  10. Having a full time official at every game assumes that the league can find at least 16 of them willing to give up their day job, or replace a few if they come up short.

  11. Finally, hopefully this will stop refs from being biased towards the Vikings and screwing them every single game. P.S PFT if you delete my comment like last time for no reason I will consider it an attack on my freedom of speech. There is nothing wrong with my comments.
    Good day.

  12. Hallelujah! I’ve been calling for full time refs for years. Set up an “officials training facility”, complete with getting them in workout facilities, film study and classroom time. If they put in 40 hour weeks together, getting ready to officiate, I cannot see how the quality of officiating will go down.

    I cannot fathom how they could not mine the college football ranks of players that won’t make the NFL to learn the career of officiating football games.

    Football is too big of a business to do it any other way.

  13. Pretty hard to hire someone full time for 60 minutes of actual work time a week, but those 60 minutes would require many hours of film study, interpretation, perhaps reflex type drills and/or sight exercises. Which would mean getting rid of some of the current group, geez, I’m all in for that. And for God’s sake, get the league office to come up with some sort of consistent penalties for suspensions, fines, etc. This rinky dink type where you never know what for and for how long if or when a suspension is dished out is really bush for a league that in other ways has no comparison.

  14. Ed hoculli should be tested for performance enhancing drugs…..and vision impairing drugs

  15. They need to do something, the officiating is all over the place. Some of the non calls in the play offs compared to what was called that cost teams games during reg season is terrible.

  16. As a whole, easily the worst year of officiating ever. Officials look scared, confused and disorganized.

    Probably because they’re being asked to officiate a game they no longer recognize thanks to all these new rules.

  17. most of those guys arent going to want to take a pay cut, to be fulltime officials.

    so, people who arent doing as well as these ones are, will get hired.

    officiating could well get worse. and more expensive.

    i have a better idea. make sure the officiating crew cant stay at the same hotels as any team players or personnel. cut out contact / fraternization of all kinds, that benefits teams they fraternize with, or not.

    and make them pass a freakin physical. and an eye test and a hearing test.

  18. The NFL can EASILY afford this & it will only help. Mike I loved how your brought up a Madden style simulator. Madden itself is a great tool in helping kids understand football concepts, especially as a QB learning where the differnt soft spots are in coverages. I’m sure they can come up with some sor of customized simulator to help the Ref’s mental game sharp

  19. Back in the 1970’s Bud Grant, Don Shula, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll and other great headcoaches were begging for full time officials and I have supported the idea since, funny it’s 50 years later and the NFL is just now “considering it”. ……here’s another humorous thought….all professional athletes should be required to play without their names on their jerseys as it makes it even easier for officials to favor the “stars”. On the serious side, professional sports has forsaken the “sport” of it all and is concentrating on the “entertainment” value. ….as an aside note, how bush is it that CBS caves into N. Suh and puts him on their pregame show to try and bolster his image. wonder if Goodell had something to do with that??????

  20. lionsfanatic84 says:Jan 15, 2012 4:01 PM

    Ed hoculli should be tested for performance enhancing drugs…..and vision impairing drugs

    Given his performance, shouldn’t Ed Hochuli be GIVEN performance enhancing drugs??

  21. Making officials full time will not solve the problem. They already undergo testing for knowledge, etc. And they still get some major calls wrong. Things will get missed regardless of what scrutiny the refs are held to.

    One issue is the rules are written by lawyers and are overly complicated. Fans used to know what a catch, fumble and TD were.

    Another issue is, for the “safety of the players,” officials make too many calls on based on assumption rather than what they actually see and they blow the play dead prematurely.

    The replay system is designed “to get the call right” yet because of some rules, a team gets shafted. Why review plays that are called TDs but not those that might be a TD but weren’t called that way? Why is a fumble in 1 game given to the defense after review, but in another game that same type of play isn’t even reviewable?

    A huge issue that I have with the officiating is a lack of consistency throughout the league. Much of that is encouraged by the league itself by highlighting what penalties will be enforced or not. Example: big hits have been scrutinized much more than necessary in order to send a PC message. Holding penalties have not been called in the playoffs (maybe 3 total in 7 games so far…c’mon man) I’m all for letting them play but an obvious penalty should be called. A team that primarily passes has another artificial advantage over a defensive team if they are allowed to hold on every play without fear of consequence.

    The league has a lot to clean up and making officials full time doesn’t solve any of it.

  22. I find it hard to believe that with all the money that the NFL makes that they can’t afford to do this with out charging more for tickets. It is a joke and they must think think fans are stupid when it comes to what they bag in total revenue a year.

  23. It is one thing to get live plays wrong from one crew to another. You cant expect perfect uniformity there. But on replays, there should rarely be a controversy. But looking at the GB game, the fumble while a close play was clearly beyond the doubt level a fumble as other crews have ruled on similar close plays. The ball was clearly out when you slomo the thing. Refs have overruled much less obvious plays despite controversy among fans.

    Instant replay should rarely be wrong

  24. “the league seems to be warming to the importance of creating the impression that all reasonable steps are being taken to ensure that the officials get it right.”

    —Well, that botched call (and botched replay) on that Green Bay fumble against the Giants today won’t help the impression of NFL ref competence. If full-time refs leads to better officiating, I say its a good idea.

  25. I don’t know if being full-time would’ve prevented this, but what a horrible non-reversal in the Packers/Giants game on the Jennings fumble (or is it non-fumble since the ruling on the field wasn’t overturned like it should have been).

    I’m not a Giants fan, in fact, being an Eagles fan I pretty much hate them, but that was terrible. Even that ref-apoligist Perrera (i know i didn’t spell that right) couldn’t find a way to agree with them.

  26. I would rather them weed out the horrible ones they have now.
    On a side note how does Bill Leavy continue to get playoff games? That guy saves his worst for the playoffs

  27. Seriously, compare this the overrule of the Wallace catch in the Denver game. There was a lot more evidence of a fumble today in the GB game than evidence of an incompletion in that game. By the Denver Pittsburgh game standards of doubt, the fumble should have been ruled.

    And I thought the refs were supposed to err on the side of the fumble for live rulings lest the defenders need to return the ball. how they could rule that a non fumble on the field was baffling as it looked like a fumble all the way.

  28. And speaking of incompetent refereeing, in that same Denver Pittsburgh game, the same ref who overruled that Wallace catch was blind enough to miss a lateral later in the game.

  29. I apologize in advance for the rant – Madden has no penalties! They are broken! I’m 100% down with the NFL hiring full time officials, especially if one of the side effects is they referee some Madden games and get some penalties in the game that actually work.

  30. Here’s the deal. No one says they have to keep the ones they have now. Hire 16 referees for full time work.Pay them a decent salary so they don’t need their other jobs. The other 6 positions can still be part time. This will give the referee an entire week to go over the last weeks films to pick apart the mistakes made and drill the person that made it. They have to be more accountable and stop using the replay for a crutch. There is nothing a player can do to take money from an officials pocket, but one blown call can cost an entire team a lot of money. This needs to end. Baseball games take all day but for some reason replays have to be done in 60 seconds. Do it until you get it right.

  31. Be careful what you wish for.

    MLB is an example of what happens when you have full-time officials –they want a union, and when they get their union, they refuse to be accountable for not calling the games by the rule book. The strike zone is elastic and arbitrary, force-outs at second and third base are not even close, etc.

    Self-confessed incompetents like Bill Leavy need to be fired if they won’t quit.

  32. Give every official LASIK eye surgery. Especially the ones in the replay booth. You have the best views, even in slowmo and can’t get the call right. The rules are the same for everyone, every team. Roughing the quarterback is the same for everyone, not just the ones a-hole Goodell has feelings for: Brady, Manning, Rodgers& Brees! I refuse to watch the NBA anymore because the officiating there has ruined that sport. The NFL is well on it’s way to having the same result. In basketball, a foul is a foul, steps is steps, I don’t care who you are or how much you make. Same for football. Get consistent!!!

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