Ex-head of officiating thinks all 17 NFL refs should be full-time


The NFL has slowly begun converting some of its officials from part-timers who also work weekday jobs to full-timers whose sole focus is studying the rules of the NFL. But as botched calls like the ending of Sunday’s Chiefs-Chargers game show, there are still plenty of times when properly enforcing all the league’s convoluted rules proves to be too much for the officials.

As a result, former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira says, it’s time to turn the head referee on each of the 17 officiating crews into a full-time employee.

“My personal belief is the 17 referees all ought to be full time,” Pereira told the Associated Press. “They need to explore that notion because having only one full-time referee and umpire and line judge and the others makes no sense. It would not achieve to me what having all 17 full-time refs would, because they should be involved with everything. Be involved in proposals of rules changes and teaching their crews and working with the teams in the offseason.”

As long as the NFL’s rules are as complex as they are, part-timers are going to struggle to keep them all straight. Unless the NFL can figure out a way to streamline the rulebook, full-time referees may be a necessity.

65 responses to “Ex-head of officiating thinks all 17 NFL refs should be full-time

  1. How about firing the bad the ones instead of rewarding them with full time jobs. Oh wait, they’re Union workers so you can’t fire them no matter how incompetent they are.

  2. How about firing underperforming refs?
    Why does this job give a lifetime contract???
    We have a bunch of 50 year olds running with the most athletic 20-30 year olds in the world…

  3. Full time? They work for three hours one day a week from August through February.

    How is that full time?

    I would kill for that work schedule at full time pay and first class airfare and a hotel suite wherever they send me.

  4. The problem is that the best refs won’t want to leave their current professions unless the salaries offered from the NFL will be in the same ball park. Many of the refs are lawyers and business owners who make far more than the NFL pays them. They do it because they love officiating, not for the money. So to get them to quit their high paying careers to be full time refs, they are going to have to up the salaries significantly.

  5. Bud Grant tried to convince the NFL to hire full time officials in 1968. Officiating should be a year round obligation.

  6. Considering how the replacement referees successfully stole a Monday Night game from the Packers, winners of more NFL Championships than any team in NFL history, I’d have to agree.

  7. Gene Steratore is a great official. Ron Winter and Clete what’s his face are awful officials. Full time or part time it doesn’t matter. When the same crew keeps butchering calls hold them accountable and don’t let them be officials anymore. The league saying whoops that was a wrong call on Tuesday, then you keep seeing the same officials botching calls the next week is where the problem is.

  8. I think as bad as the officiating (missed calls, lack of rule knowlage.. ect.. ect… ect) they should fire ALL of the refs they have now, hire 17 new guys and give them training and make the full time. That pass interference call against the Browns at the very end of the game was horrific and not knowing the Charges lined up illegally trying to block a field goal are both end of game plays THEY HAVE TO GET RIGHT because they change the outcome. Get full time officials but don’t keep these clowns.

  9. I think that the Refs and crew should all be full time. There certainly is the revenue to do this and the impact of full time crews that are held accountable would be much better for the game.

  10. Oh, it’s that the rulebook is convoluted and hard to grasp now. Funny, the replacements didn’t get such a charitable point of view. The guys that just got a monster raise get a pass due to a difficult to understand rulebook.

    How hard would you study for $179,000 per season in addition to your regular job? Is there a rulebook too complex to master for that money? I don’t think so.

  11. Full time or not. What the sport demands and fans deserve is consistency!

    Everyone’s definition of a catch, pass interference, illegal contact, unsportsmanlike conduct, etc is all different.

  12. > Full time? They work for three hours one day a week from August through February.

    You can’t complain about the quality of the refs and then get mad when people suggest making them full time.

    Every other sport has full time refs. So what if they don’t work all year? Pay them enough to encourage the best refs in the country to do it as their main job, but at a reasonable rate for someone who only works 4-5 months a year. At this level, it should be a profession, not a part-time gig for someone with another job.

    There’s a lot of money riding on these games. It won’t cost much to pay for quality refs. It’s painful watching these clowns out there right now.

  13. That is a great idea, now go tell the ref’s union and you will see how far that will go. For most people what they get paid and the benifits they get is better than what most people who work full time already get.

  14. Start fining refs (just as they do players for various infractions – even when they’re silly) for incorrect/blown calls and you’ll see an immediate improvement. Rewarding people for screwing up their jobs has never been the solution to anything and will do absolutely nothing to improve the current state of officiating.

  15. I don’t understand this; the NFL is a billion dollar business…er, not for profit or whatever they claim to avoid the taxes…anyway, the NFL generates billions of dollars yet they employ the officials part time? It doesn’t make sense.

    You know what else doesn’t make sense? This billion dollar entity has elderly men dragging around chains to measure down and distance. It’s 2013, you’re telling me we can’t also upgrade this process?

  16. you know what its funny I knew there would be a GB fan complaining about the replacement ref game from 2 years ago still. Mean while the regular refs effect teams every week and he don’t care about those missed calls

  17. full time refs isn’t going to solve anything when the rules are convoluted for even the simplest thing.

    Take the potential too many men on the field exploit/issue that came up during the 2nd Pats/Giants superbowl.

    Instead of merely adding a slight tweak they added more stuff.

    It is now a dead-ball foul and a five-yard penalty if the offense lines up with too many men for more than three seconds or the defense has too many players and the snap is imminent.

    The old rule was fine. All they had to do was add the choice of yardage or clock. If you accept penalty you get 5 yards and time put back on. If you decline you get the yardage gain but no time put back on, like it was before similar to defensive offsides.

    Now the ref has to count beyond 11 then determine was guy lined up for more than 3 seconds and/or that the snap is imminent.

  18. This sounds like a pay raise and a promotion, but what do they do that warrants that? They don’t have to do that to find good people or better people and there’s so many other issues with the officiating that are much more important to deal with than this. The pay rate and conditions and terms already makes it a highly attractive job. If you dont like the ref quality then talk to the person that picks them and trains them and supervises them, andbmake those people take pay cuts cause they failed at their jobs. I would rather see a system that taxes incompetent refs before one that gives them additional benefits. Perreira’s suggestion is offensive and there’s better ways to improve the officiating while also taking pressure off the refs and that is a new benefit anyhow for them to enjoy.

  19. Right now, we are dealing with to many egos in referee world. Hochuli Winter, Triplet, these guys cannot even control a game anymore, but the sure look good.

  20. This is the damn NFL! hire 100 full time refs, make each team pay into the ref fund to support it, get a full time replay ref at every stadium, allow all plays to be reviewable and let the game be called correctly 100% of the time. What we have here is a failure to communicate. I don’t like it any more than you fellas….

  21. Thats what I have been saying all year long. Hire em full time! I dont like the fact that they are working 5 days a week at a school or in a courtroom. They should be spending those 5 days preparing for the game they are about to ref.

  22. One thing I haven’t seen proposed is the addition of another on-field official. Other pro sports (NBA and NHL) have added to the officiating crews as players have become bigger and the game moved faster. Could this be part of the answer?

  23. Yeah, I’m not sure what happen with the refs striking. What the heck ever became of that? What the NFL got like 4 full-time refs? Lame.

  24. I surprised the wise guys in Vegas, haven’t made a call to Commish Roger and insisted on a little better officiating, so there points spreads weren’t screwed by bad calls. Do it Roger or else.

  25. Fire Goodell, that frees up about 30 million…

    Hire some full time refs with the saved loot..

  26. They should focus on simplifying the rules wherever possible. I also find it hard to believe that there aren’t hundreds of potentially better refs out there (that aren’t being given any serious consideration). I’d rather have some 25-35 year old, athletic refs that study and prepare full time than the current crop of AARP members who are going to be very difficult to financially motivate into doing a better job.

  27. The refs are graded on every play. NFL refs are the best football refs in the country. Firing somebody for making a single high profile mistake and replacing them with someone worse doesn’t make any sense.

    They need to make every call challengeable by either coach. Then if necessary the guy reviewing the play could be on the phone with the head of officiating.

  28. The officiating has been awful since they returned last year. Remember how bad the replacements were? These guys have been nearly as bad. I think 1 big reason is that most of these guys are fossils. In the offseason, most teams always say they have to get younger. How about the NFL developing the same mindset when talking about the officials?

  29. Those criticizing the league on the issue are most likely the same people who criticized the league last year over the referee lockout. One of the main sticking points was the league wanted a certain percentage of the refs to be full time. The union said no.

    The season started with replacement refs. After a couple of blatant, game altering mistakes (although nothing worse than what we’ve seen this year) by the replacements everyone started screaming at Goodell for the regular crews. The NFL backed off the full time mandate and settled.

    The refs are the problem here, not the league.

  30. When I saw this title :
    “Ex-head of officiating thinks all 17 NFL refs should be full-time”

    I thought it said fired, and that I agree with.

    Worst year of officiating I have ever seen.

  31. NFL referees make an average of 175,000 per year. MLB umpires make an average of 400,000 per year and receive vacation pay, health insurance, and a pension. Even NBA and NHL refs earn more per year than NFL refs.

    The path to the NFL starts at high school, then small college, big college, and then the NFL. It takes years to get to the pros.

    Most of them are white collar professionals in other fields. So if you want better refs who are full time, you better be willing to pay them on par with MLB or they won’t quit their day job for it.

    This has nothing whatever to do with unions and more about good old fashioned capitalism.

  32. I simply don’t understand why there aren’t more officials per game! Did you read Peter King’s 3 part story when he followed around Gene Steratore’s crew for a week?

    These guys have a ton of things to watch pre snap. With all the motion and other changing of plays pre snap, the officials job changes as well.

    Yes, I agree, all officials should be full time. But, with the bigger and faster players, there should also be more sets of eyes on the field at all times.

    And for the love of god, get an independent person in there to review challenged plays. I’m so sick of the Ref refusing to overturn one of his buddies calls (see Toby Gerhart’s non fumble in the Baltimore game). You tell me you can’t pay a guy $100k a year for that job? Sit in booth. Watch game on tv. Review challenged plays. Where do I apply?

  33. If you get a chance, watch a compressed replay of a game. I would estimate they miss spot the ball by 1+ yards a third of the time. They are within a yard a third of the time and within a ball or on spot the remaining third. I have officiated and spotting the ball accurately is not that difficult.

    Most of the referees and some of the position officials want the attention and notoriety. This is why each one signals calls uniquely or like Winters signals third down by using his index, middle and pinky fingers instead of his index, middle and ring. This is why some position officials come running in signaling the penalty instead of reporting it to the referee.

    If I was supervisor of officials, they would all signal the same. If they couldn’t conform, they would be fired. They would learn their place and return to be game administrators instead of personalities. I would also lobby to simplify the rules. The NFL has far too many special rules. The just recently changed the rule regarding onside kicks which enable a team to rekick if the ball went out of bounds. Why should they get two chances? They finally figured out how stupid that was. I would lobby to pay the officials and make them full time. Weekly grades would be posted on NFL.com and officials would be publicly fined for blatant errors. Any time the league is apologizing on Monday, an official should be losing income and possibly their jobs.

  34. Pereria helped to create this mess. His opinion has little credibility. NFL officiating is as bad or worse than the NBA. More like Big Time Wrestling officials. More need to be fired. Bill Leavy screwed up a Super Bowl and continues to make a mess of things. Jeff Tripplette is a miserable official, always has been. Why are they still around? Why does the NFL tolerate miserable officiating? They simply don’t care about the fans or getting it right. As long as the $$$ keeps rolling in, the fans will just need to accept whatever product these billionaires want to put on the field. It’s not worth being a fan or investing emotional capital in this product, only to have poor call after poor call rob your team and the NFL office doing nothing about it. The coaches and GM’s get millions, so keep the cash coming in. Seattle was screwed out of a Super Bowl by Leavy and his crew screwed up again to keep the Steelers out of the playoffs. Don’t get it right NFL, just count your cash.

  35. Agree with more on field positions. One additional back judge and two additional side judges. The side judges would be placed at 5 yards down field. The head linesman and line judge would remain on the LOS.

    Every NFL field should have 14 permanent cameras. Two on each side line, two on each goal line and two on each end line plus two above each goal line.

    Goal posts uprights should also be extended up another 15 feet. No sense in ever having a judgment call on a field goal. Heck, they could even fix a net to the inside of the uprights so if the ball lands it the net, it is obviously good.

  36. There should be a replay/clock crew that works independently from the on field officials. They should not be retired officials. They should be barred from patronizing with game officials to remove all bias or avoid not wanting to overrule a buddy.

    This crew would consist of two replay officials. Replay officials would interrupt play by activating a police like flashing light located on the gooseneck of each upright and paging each game official. These booth officials would review and make the determination on each replay. There is no need for the referee to watch a replay. They should be able to halt play to correct errors like penalty spot enforcements or like the play clock incident in Dallas this week. (this incident had several errors. First, the clock did not start immediately when the play ended. It was held at 40 seconds for three or four seconds after the whistle blew. It then errantly reset at 25 seconds.)

    The rest of the team would be the official game clock operator and the official play clock operator. It is silly that the league does not have these positions as part of the replay team. You can watch any game and see the clock is not stopped consistently following field goals, plays going out of bounds etc., nor started consistently at the snap. The home timer tries to help the home team. Game clock should include tenths of seconds when under two minutes.

    The two replay officials should be paid like an on field officials. The two clock operators should be paid about 5k per game. Of course all travel expenses would be covered.

    The goal should be perfection.

  37. I am a Chiefs fan and although the 2 blown calls didn’t change our fate I was incensed that the fumble/fake punt/TD wasn’t reviewed. Then to add the field goal mis call it really is inexcusable. Coaches get fired on wins and losses and the officials incompetence costs people jobs. I’m not a Steelers fan but I can’t help but feel bad for them to get the ultimate hosing. They should be the 6th seed, not the almost lost to the Chiefs JV Chargers.

  38. Considering the age of these guys, its probably perfect timing for them to retire from their other jobs any way. Now they’ll continue to get the best seats in the house and still not be able to call the game nearly as well as people watching from home.

  39. I want to go on record to say my ideas listed above may not be perfect, but if the league was serious about improving the quality, they would include knowledgeable fans into some of the processes. Fans see the game differently and may have outside of the box ideas that could improve the product. I am interested in other persons ideas on how to improve the officiating. Please post your ideas.

  40. Sure the refs have made bad calls such as the chargers game, however no matter how good they become some plays/calls will always be challenged by fans and players. I don’t think refs should decide games and that is the issue that needs to be addressed by the nfl

  41. Someone made a good point concerning the fact that these men make more money in their regular full time jobs. Reffing in the NFL is a little more than a hobby to some of these men.
    If they decide to go with a complete crew of full-timers, they would need to start training full-time crews and start to attrition off the present ones who would not agree to it.
    Also, I don’t understand how part time employees can be full-time members of a union.

  42. The NFL needs to get rid of sketchy guys who gives freebies to new england, pittsburgh, and baltimore (start with that old, hgh abusing ref).

  43. I agree with the premise, however, we saw what happened with the replacement refs (and how these current refs, when they came back, got STANDING OVATIONS. The same ones that have blown critical call after critical call this season!).

    There would have to be a gradual transition.

    My suggestion would be as follows:
    – Keep the grading system as is.
    – The bottom 10-15% of scored referees are fired each season.
    – Eventually, all officials will have to bring their “A” game or be let go. Hmm…JUST LIKE REAL LIFE!
    – This also prevents a situation where 80-90% of the current refs balk at working full time and simply quit, putting the NFL back in the bind they were in 2 years ago.

    I think every rational fan can agree the officiating is terrible, the NFL has too many rules, and along with FIXING the rule book, the referees need to be full time employees with benefits.

    The league makes well over 10 BILLION dollars. I think they can and should ensure the integrity of the game goes unquestioned.

  44. One blogger said something about these guys regular jobs as Lawyers,Business owners.As a business owner,you may have an argument.Some of theses guys get paid over $150,000 for 6months & work a few hours.That’s less time & effort what you’re putting in as a lawyer…
    I’m a H.S. ref,the problem is a lot of these guys are old & out of shape.The part of the game is not really adding more refs,it’s more for these refs to get in better shape.A lot of them are old & stubborn in there ways.They wear glasses at the real jobs but don’t have the necessary eye wear for the game.It don’t look kool! Once you get in,it’s hard for them to get you out.If some of these refs get into football shape as half as these football players,the game would go a lot smoother.Put them through a condition test.As a NFL PLAYER,if your knee or you leg is bothering you,you may sit out.The refs don’t sit out,they go ref with the ailing or aching leg or ARTHRITIS.I’m not saying if you’re old,you can’t ref,I’m saying get into better shape whereas you can get in better position.A lot of these players are freakish by nature.Somewhat you have to match there intensity & game.Remember this you can’t never argue a judgement call because we’re human.You can argue a rule!

  45. What about fining refs for missing game changing calls? Goodell already fines every steeler just fine the refs for bad calls too.

  46. Steelers fans stop it we all know even if you did make the playoffs you would not make it past the first round and some of you are talking about a ring wow #overrated

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