League remains intent on exploring full-time officials

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Last month, before a playoff game between the Texans and Ravens, Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league will consider making some of the league’s game officials full-time employees.

The NFL apparently remains intent on doing so.

NFL V.P. of officiating Carl Johnson recently told Bill Lubinger of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the league will engage in an unprecedented effort to consider full-time officials.  “This is the first time that we’re really going to examine it in the offseason,” Johnson said.

The measure will meet resistance from officials who currently work other jobs.  Some, like long-time referee and attorney Ed Hochuli, have lucrative non-football careers.  If they have to choose between the two, they may choose to ditch football.

Then again, the workload may not increase much, in the opinion of some of the men in black, and white.  “I think we’re about as full-time as we can get,” said Mark Steinkerchner, who has worked as a game official for 18 years.

John Parry, who served as the referee of Super Bowl XLVI, estimates that he devotes 20 to 30 hours per week on a variety of tasks, including making travel arrangements, studying film, communicating with the league office and his crew, and engaging in other work preceding departure for the game site.  League rules require arrival at least 24 hours before kickoff.  Time in the city where the game will be played is spent in meetings with the crew and other preparations.  Then, the officials have to work the game and travel home and get ready to do it all over again.

Still, while the officials may be working on a full-time basis during the season, much would be gained from having access to the officials in the offseason plus securing their undivided attention during the season.  If they’re spending as much time as Parry estimates each week from September through early January, they really shouldn’t be working other jobs.

In the offseason, extra time could be spent studying the rules, working in simulated settings, exercising, and doing other things to prepare for the coming season.

The good news is that the league finally seems to be realizing that the game has gotten far too big to continue with the old ways of doing things.  Players quit being part-time employees long ago.  It’s time for officials to make that same commitment.

48 responses to “League remains intent on exploring full-time officials

  1. No brainer following the hatchet jobs we saw in this years playoffs. Worst I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen about 40 post seasons

  2. They need to hold refs more accountable for obvious mistakes whether they are FT or not. One game like the GB/GIA playoff game should be an immediate termination.

    Review should be done by a FT ref in the booth not on the field like Mike P. does for the networks.

  3. so youre saying being a referee is a part time job…..what do they do during the other time, referee badminton?

  4. So the horrendous officiating this past year, especially in the playoffs may have finally pushed the NFL into taking notice. Better late then never I guess.

  5. Must betwenn ages 35-45, no major surguries, can’t be from a pro football city, no gambling habits, must be able to run and can’t not play any fantasy games!

  6. I think the Lions got jobbed the worst, the zebras took away a nearly guaranteed TD on that fumble. I’m not a Lions fan, but that was just uncalled for. ESPECIALLY in a game against 2 high scoring teams, a defensive play like that is huge.

  7. Good teams overcome bad calls, I honestly believe that. And I’m a Raiders fan.

    Many will make light of this, but I just don’t see the upside in griping about bad calls.

  8. It’s about time. Personally I’ve been calling for this for years. I’ve always felt that a game that generates billions of dollars a year (both legally and illegally) should have nothing but the best possible staff of officials. That task no longer belongs to guys who in their day jobs are accountants and gynecologists.

    Make the positions true full time positions that require continual training and assessment. Pay them a salary large enough that the officials would dare not risk losing it by making bad or suspect calls during a game. Then and only then will the league have full control of its officials and be assured that they’ve put the best possible officiating product on the field.

  9. buzzbissinger says:
    Feb 19, 2012 10:48 PM
    Good teams overcome bad calls, I honestly believe that. And I’m a Raiders fan.

    Many will make light of this, but I just don’t see the upside in griping about bad calls.

    Sorry, but a bad call can cost you the game, and in the playoffs, it’s season over.

  10. This isn’t going to make a difference. The game will still be just as fast as when they were “part time”.

    Next will be people complaining that even with FT officials they blow calls.


  11. The amount of money generated by the NFL and not having professional refs…Kinda sad! This is not 1950 any more. Would like to see little more younger to that can keep up. Lotta pressure on the part-time refs no skin in the game. Full timers its you profession prolly gunna pay a bit more attention.

  12. lets face it, most of these guys are turds … we need younger , full-tim refs. And I dont think they should be ” studying film ” of teams .. how about simply studying the rules , without going into the game with a mindset that a team already commits alot of penalties … these guys are absolute turds

  13. Being full time won’t make refs much better with decisions, if at all, but as noted in the article it does offer a host of other advantages that make it a no-brainer.

  14. dachozen1 says: Feb 19, 2012 11:08 PM

    They get replay wrong so I dont know if this will make a difference.
    That’s a hell of a point.

    When they look at a replay that clearly shows the call on the field to be wrong, and then uphold the call, it’s make you question the very integrity of the game.

    That’s not a good thing for the league.


    Does anyone know of a link/website where they name the espn employees who were fired for the J. Lin comments?

  16. The reason they’re are older is because they have over 20 years experience before the NFL hires them, normally. Also, to keep them clean, I’ve heard and read they’re all required to be financially secure, debt free relatively wealthy guys. This may be the most important factor to protect the integrity of the game… I think they’re probably as good as they’ve ever been, but replay shows the human errors we never saw before.

  17. Mike,

    An intertesting point which I did not see in the post is how much are officials paid per game/season? If they went to f/t officials what would they do in the off season? Players have ongoing strength and conditioning work in the off season. How much would be fair compensation?

  18. drednot says:Feb 20, 2012 6:42 AM


    Does anyone know of a link/website where they name the espn employees who were fired for the J. Lin comments?


    Ever heard of Google??? look it up and stick with basketballtalk.

  19. Anything to improve the quality of game officials should be encouraged. My hope would be that they’d at least have one full-time employee in every game that would be responsible for consistent rules interpretation.

    I applaud the NFL for considering full-time refs. it’s a step in the right direction. For those who feel full-time refs aren’t necessary, you are dead wrong. The major problem with refs has not really been bad calls, but the inconsistency from game-to-game of those calls. Having full-time refs would help to improve that consistency.

  20. Is everybody happy with full time officials in the MLB and NBA? Baseball umpires have delusions of grandeur. NBA refs bet on games and admit to “Jordan” rules. Both of these unions are quite strong and many believe they must be a part of the game not just officials. Most of the current part time NFL refs do it for the love of the game. They take their orders from the league and have little to say. When it becomes a profession that profession will be protected. So they may not agree to more common sense replay rules, or who gets picked to ref playoffs. Rather than being a partner with the league they will be at odds with the league. Give more access to refs and teams and players will immediately take advantage of a relationship to get those “Jordan” rules.

  21. Being full time will not help the problem. These guys routinely make bad calls at critical points in the game. Not because they are part time, not because they are old or out of shape. The rules have been bastardized by lawyers and are now up for interpretation. Nobody knows what a catch, TD or fumble are anymore. Many of the bad calls are made by an official that is perfectly positioned and then reviewed by a ref that sees HD slo-mo video of what happened–and then gets the call wrong again. Inadvertent whistles screw teams over more than anything else.

  22. One thing people forget about bad play calling is that if a team like the Lions get eliminated,Think of how much that blown call cost the city of Detroit, the team,and possibility to play in the Super Bowl.A loss and you are done. Surely the NFL should hold these guys to a higher standard and the replay perhaps should be done in a better fashion. Maybe 3 people viewing it and deciding. My Giants not only were playing the Packers,but the terriblly calling Ref crew. I agree,good teams MUST get past it,but it shouldn’t have to come to that. I agree,there should be new blood in the ranks.

  23. “exploring”

    “Hey Joe, should we go full-time on officials?”
    “I dunno, Tom, ask me again next happy hour.”

  24. It seems to me the officiating in Div I college games is much less intrusive to the flow of the game than in the NFL. This suggests to me the pro game is over officiated.

    I have been a (volunteer) track and field official for 20y at a top Div I university as well as for a secondary school. The mark of a good T&F official is that she/he is not noticed.

    As EdgarPoe2 pointed out, the officials on the field have no really sound idea of the current rules as they change so often. T&F rules are very simple.

    NFL officiating to me has become over-complicated and it’s the league’s fault. Perhaps it is a mistake to have so much $$ riding on the games.

  25. They’re only discussing making 10 of the positions full time. This is not even close to talking about making them all full time, considering there are something like 170 of them.

    They may just be looking for the ability to retain a few good officials by offering them health benefits, rather than risk losing them to other full time jobs that they hold.

  26. The nfl wants crooked referees to promote the teams that will generate the most interest and profits.

    The proof is in the super bowl, where the refs gave the patriots every break in the book.

    it was so outrageous that even wilkfor – bless his soul – told a referee he blew a call in his favor.

    The only solution is to dock salaries for bad calls and tar feather and parade in the streets these referees.

  27. th56 says:
    Feb 20, 2012 12:08 AM

    buzzbissinger says:
    Feb 19, 2012 10:48 PM
    Good teams overcome bad calls, I honestly believe that. And I’m a Raiders fan.

    Many will make light of this, but I just don’t see the upside in griping about bad calls.

    Sorry, but a bad call can cost you the game, and in the playoffs, it’s season over.

    And complaining gets you back in? What’s your point?

  28. If you don’t want mistakes, take the human factor out of it. I see where a people are saying if they have a blown call fire them. If you go by that, then fire all the players who make mistakes. Most people posting on here have never officiated. To be a Pro Ref, you have to have officiated High School Football and then NCAA Football. Then go to camps. The best of the best in the NFL will quit officiating if they have to choose between their lively hood and officiating. If you think it’s bad now, wait until that happens. I get upset too at times, but it’s part of the game. These guys were the top of their field in NCAA. I’ve seen fumbles that were missed and it took slow motion and stop frame showing the knee was maybe an inch above the ground when the ball came out. Those are not easy calls to make when you are on the field running up and down and trying to look in between all the players.

  29. It is true that a bad call can cost a team a game. It is also true that a lost fumble, a thrown interception, a dropped interception or a dropped pass can also cost a game. Do we get rid of everyone that has done one of those things too? They get paid a hell of a lot more than the guys with the striped shirts do.

  30. I read the headline, thought maybe the refs were going to start calling offensive pass interference. Apparently, I was wrong. Receivers will continue to push defenders away, and not be called for it.

  31. People need to understand something. The NFL officials call what the NFL wants called or they lose their jobs. Simple as that. My complaint is what the NFL is having the officials call or not call. Not as much the officials.

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