NFL exploring possibility of assisting officials in stand-alone games

AP

As the NFL deals with an unprecedented rash of criticism regarding the quality of its officiating, the league currently is exploring procedures to improve certain aspects of the process.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL is considering the possibility of providing officials with real-time assistance during certain games. The focus would be to assist the officials with administrative issues, not to correct bad calls made during plays. For that, the replay system would continue to be the safety net.

Under this approach, prime-time contests and other games being played beyond the 1:00 p.m. ET window would be candidates for extra attention. And the idea flows from the reality that league executives responsible for officiating are focusing on those games, noticing the errors, and currently powerless to do anything about them.

The counter to this possible approach comes from the reality that 1:00 p.m. ET games wouldn’t receive the same level of attention. This would create a competitive disparity between games.

The easy response would be to simply do it for all games. Which would be a great start, if the goal is (as it should be) to minimize any and all mistakes.

87 responses to “NFL exploring possibility of assisting officials in stand-alone games

  1. That is not a good idea. Big market teams would get better officiating because they play prime time? Either have it on all games, have all calls be challengeable by the coach or try it only during postseason and see how it works.

  2. Sorry but it shouldn’t just be in the prime time games. ALL games count as much and honestly to me it is unfair to the teams that don’t play in prime time as much. Do their games count less?

  3. Just start the process of getting full time, non senior citizen officials in there. There all way past their prime trying to keep up with, let alone officiate, players in peak physical condition close to half of their age.

  4. What they really have to do is get Dean Blandino out of any sort of loop where he can make a call on a play. Then let him go. Then fire Goodell.

    This would be the only decent way to begin fixing the ref issue.

  5. On first glance, this seems unfair because it puts teams that do not get primetime slots at greater risk of poor officiating which would be detrimental to the game – and Roger has told us many times that the integrity of the game is of paramount importance to him.

    But then, when you consider that Roger lies all the time, and that his only actual priorities are public perception and saving his team of Jets flunkies from any reasonable level of accountability, well then this makes perfect sense.

  6. I’ve always wondered. Do all games have the same number of cameras? Or at least the same number where replay video comes from? If not, how is it fair if only marque games get the benefit of additional views?

  7. Why not just tell the refs if it is a questionable call then don’t throw the flag. If its blatant then throw the flag. That’s it. Nothing drastic. That would take away a lot of personal foul calls, holding calls, and pass interference/defensive holding calls.

  8. Not sure why this is so hard. The announcers do it on the fly in the booth, why can’t the NFL have someone in the booth and in the ref’s ear. When a suspicious call is made – they instantly see the review and pipe up in the official’s ear “you screwed up, that was not PI on Gronk”.

    This can be done on each play in every game. It really isn’t rocket science. I believe a 6 year old can do it. One just needs eyes.

  9. Remember when the NFL tried to lock out the referees a few years ago? Remember how bad it was? Unless fans are willing to have 3-4 bad years of officiating while new officials get trained, the NFL is stuck with the current crews. And the NFLRA is very resistant to removing officials for bad performance. A combination of unionized labor and inertia mean you are stuck with what you have in terms of NFL officiating.

  10. So really this would only benefit the Patriots, Steelers, Broncos, Packers, Seahawks, and the whole NFC East (which is always involved in an inexplicably high number of nationally televised games for how bad they are).

    Keep up the good work fellas at the league office. Soon you’ll reach your ultimate goal of football becoming just like boxing.

  11. “The focus would be to assist the officials with administrative issues, not to correct bad calls made during plays. For that, the replay system would continue to be the safety net.”

    Roger Goodell’s National Integrity League

    We don’t care about bad calls, we just want to make sure they get the procedure correct when they’re blowing them.

    Goodell is vile

    Goodell must go

  12. A big part of “integrity of the game” is playing ALL league games under the same rules and guidelines.

    Either do this for ALL games or none, you can’t pick and choose what games get preferential treatment based on audience/league convenience.

    If the NHL can get this right, so can the NFL.

  13. “The focus would be to assist the officials with administrative issues”

    What exactly are these “administrative issues”? Down and clock management? If the league would follow the Hoodie’s suggestion about expanding the challenge system making virtually everything challengeable that would be a big help.
    IF the goal is actually to get it right that is. Starting to think that’s a big if though. The game we love is getting ready to free fall past the NBA and is rapidly closing on the WWE when it comes to ‘integrity’

  14. Move five of the officials to the booth, where they watch the games from different angles. After each play (or during, in the case of false starts or incomplete passes vs fumbles) they talk to the remaining ref on the field to give the ruling.

    Everyone says the refs miss things because the TV views are better. THEN WHY NOT GIVE THE REFS THOSE VIEWS? You’d have issues to work out related to time spent watching replays before calling a penalty, but I think if done right it would really improve things.

  15. And there it is…..the final nail in the coffin of now having full blown fixed games. Just as the bookmaking owners always wanted.

  16. jjb0811 says:
    Dec 2, 2015 10:57 AM

    Bring back the replacement refs!!!
    ———————–

    Do you mean the refs that allowed coaches to goad them into throwing flags?

    I’m sure Harbaugh would be all for that.

  17. Roger Goodell’s new motto:
    “To uphold the integrity of hand picked games.”
    I’m sure the Patriots would be comforted to know that in-game rulings would be handed out directly from Park Avenue….the home of failed Jets executives. Also home of the failed Framegate sting operation.
    Should America trust rulings from the likes of Troy Vincent who had no clue cold air affects PSI?

  18. An easy solution….Just have the NFL peruse the PFT commenters and have the biggest complainers officiate the next series of games. that will fix the incompetent officiating immediately.

  19. As long as we’re not counting the Titans/Raiders call in this discussion – where Webb was gonna get roasted by Cooper (again) so he grabbed his jersey “holding” him downfield, I agree: do something. ANYthing.

    As long as ALL teams are on an even playing field.
    But let’s be honest here: this discussion remains its usual low and constant boil of frustration if Lord Baby is getting his usual zebra love.

  20. mjd08501 says:
    Dec 2, 2015 10:58 AM

    So really this would only benefit the Patriots, Steelers, Broncos, Packers, Seahawks, and the whole NFC East (which is always involved in an inexplicably high number of nationally televised games for how bad they are).

    Keep up the good work fellas at the league office. Soon you’ll reach your ultimate goal of football becoming just like boxing.
    ———————

    Really? I would think the earlier games would be better off with less NFL involvement in calls.

  21. Make any play reviewable. If a coach wins a challenge he can continue to keep challenging (Why does a team not get to keep challenging if what they challenge is upheld? Does the league not want the refs to look bad by constantly being overruled? Probably).

    Hire Refs full time. Hold them accountable. If they continue to not do their job, do what most employers do and find people that can do the job. Don’t tell me the NFL can’t afford it they said goal line cameras where going to be to expensive. We all laughed at that.

    Make at least one official available after the games to the media to defend their calls. If you can fine players who have nothing to say and will say nothing an official can at least be held to the same level of accountability. And why are players (contract employees) fined for not talking when league officials and team management can virtually disappear. Either that or never ever use the words “integrity of the game”.

    All plays should be automatically called a scoring play if their is any possible doubt. Scoring plays are always reviewed and it prevents a coach from having to waste a challenge correcting another officiating mistake.

  22. I can not believe this..
    We need to have Roger and his cronies monitored too.
    All games should be monitored. Yes it will prolong the game but at least issues will be addressed.

  23. I can see the Park Avenue thought process in action during Patriots games. “Despite no evidence to suggest an infraction, NE….15 yard penalty for upsetting the Full 31.”

  24. I have been Watching football for 30 years,this is the worse year ever for officiating . Games are harder to watch,flag flag, flag. Let the players play! Nothing worse than calling a penalty that does not effect the out come of a play. Stop all the holding calls ,unless it’s fairly obvious . Refs huddle up more than the players do..NFL has to do something. Guess what? We will be talking about the refs in the playoffs,instead of the games……..dam I just got flagged for holding!

  25. Unbelievable that any responsible league official would float such a stupid idea. So it’s about perception and nothing more.

    We’ve always known this about #FireGoodell but is he so stupid that he would ackowlege it so publicly?

  26. It’s official….the NFL is now Rollerball and Tom Brady is Jonathan, the greatest Rollerballer of all time who becomes a marked man by the corrupt league officials who want him gone.

  27. With the number of genius commenters we have here, it wouldn’t be hard to get 16-32 people on game day to help out at the cost of free beer.

  28. Have a separate camera focused on each player with an official watching. If that official sees that player commit a penalty in real time, then he buzzes down to the head official. In addition, the video feed from the camera should be processed so that the identity of the player is hidden.

    This is technically and financially feasible, but I don’t think the league wants to move away from their influence over who wins and loses.

  29. Worst idea I’ve ever heard.

    It’s time for fulltime refs. Refs that work practices during the week and off season and study year round with virtual play. It’s time to trim the rule book back. Remove judgement calls from deciding the outcome of games by making none of them spot fouls. Make everything reviewable, there’s no reason not to. If Roger really cared about the integrity of the game he’d do this .

  30. Hey Florio, here’s what you can do. With your new access and influence with NBC, you can publish the cell phone numbers and personal email addresses of all the owners. I know you have access to them. And you can use the typical disclaimer that they were provided by someone familiar with the information.
    Then we the fans can bypass Goodell the Narcissist, and go directly to those who can actually effect change. With enough direct pressure from their specific fan bases, the owners won’t get the watered down reports, or worse, the puffed up reports they are getting from Goodell. And once they are no longer buffered by Goodell the proven liar, they will have the incentive to do something about the falling quality of the product they own.
    For example the dropping quality of officiating issue. There are tons of software vendors who have “distance” training programs can can easily be adapted to upgrading game officials training. It would be easy to start with a required four hour per week training for all game officials, three hours at home on their own and one hour as a group before game time. Just one of a million variations that could be implemented within 30 days.
    So what do you say Florio? Can we count on your support in getting this process started?

  31. I am not too sure how I feel about it. Lets be honest, football is probably the hardest game to officiate give the sheer amount of players on the field and constant contact between them.

    Guys commit and get away with penalties on every play. There is a fine line between blocking and holding to begin with. I am not sure how it would work.

    Calls are missed, or ignored by discretion every single play.

  32. bryonneufeld says:
    Dec 2, 2015 10:57 AM
    Remember when the NFL tried to lock out the referees a few years ago? Remember how bad it was?
    ~~~~~~~~
    It wasn’t as bad as you think. The majority of calls were just as good, if not better than the garbage we see now. The main thing the replacements had an issue with was managing the flow of the game for TV. Their confidence was shaky and that meant they were susceptible to being bullied into calls by a screaming coach if they weren’t quite sure if it was a foul or not and their pow wows took a bit longer. Experience fixes that but at least those guys were trying to get the calls right and they were not guessing. The ‘real’ officials often call things they assume happened rather than call something they actually saw happen. The air of negativity for the replacement officials stemmed from a media presence that was determined to stick up for the union referees against the league. Had the league not caved, we would have a much better product right now.

    If the league wants to ensure all games are equal it should demand the networks place the same number of cameras at each game. Failure to comply should result in the league managing the games with no regard to TV. No more 10 commercials after scores because the game would continue at a normal pace. The tail is wagging the dog here because the games are managed around a TV production schedule. TV coverage should adjust to the game.

  33. Why does a sport that is is not only the #1 sport in NA but is growing year over year feel the need to cheap out on things like Refs and Replay equipment.

    Hire 13 officiating supervisors (you can have one of them do the Thursday game and another do the Monday game to cut down on costs) and have them be able to make sure of the administrative costs.

  34. might be a little easier if the league started splitting the games between 1pm and 4pm start time, instead of having 10 games at 1 and 2 at 4 like they currently do.

  35. This isn’t rocket science. It’s a combination of better training and rating of the officials, clarifying/simplifying rules, and changing the overall expectation about how active the officials should be in the game.

    Training is a no brainer. Officials should have to go through intensive professional development every year, and pass an assessment each year on their knowledge of the rules.

    Rules: Fix the catch rule and clean up the vagueness of others. Change holding to a 5 yard penalty. Eliminate the PI spot foul and make it 15 yards.

    Officiating in the Game: This is the biggest one. There are just too many damn flags. They need to stop this ridiculous “focus” on certain penalties each year (like OPI is this year), and let the players play unless a penalty is absolutely clear.

  36. *Administrative effectiveness of the game.

    And allow the supervisor the authority to correct egregious errors.

    If need be then the supervisor can call the commissioners office to get approval for game changing corrections (Sea vs Det).

    But the league probably wouldn’t foot the long distance charges.

  37. The Hoody is right…make ever play ok to challenge. Keep it at 2 or 3 challenges a game. The CFL allowed coaches to challenge pass interference this year and the world didn’t end.

    Someone in the NFL offices call Gary Bettman to understand how the knuckleheads who run the NHL actually figured out a way to correctly run a replay system.

  38. Why is the human element considered a crime when it involves officiating? Countless hours and dollars over the last twenty years trying to video micro-manage the officials. And we enjoy the game less!
    Do you enjoy watching football more today than you did twenty years ago?

  39. Who knows maybe Goodell is behind the bad calls. The refs are employed by the NFL. If Goodell tells the official call anything close to pass interference then the official has to call it. It’s the same as if your boss tells you to do something then you have to do it within reason of course.

  40. The key here – from the NFL perspective – is that you just read a news article that indicates the NFL is doing something. They like those kinds of articles a lot. They particularly like articles like this that use active, but imprecise verbs like “exploring” or “investigating.” They want everyone to know that they are on the job, protecting the shield, integrity(TM), and all that, even though they will almost certainly do nothing in the end.

  41. You know what 2 sports used to be huge in America? Boxing and Horse racing. And why did they die off to what they are today? The stench that the outcomes weren’t on the up and up. That the integrity of both sports couldn’t be trusted. The public lost trust that the competition was fair. Hence the lifetime bans for the Black Sox and Pete Rose. Hence the banishment of NBA ref’s caught cheating for gambling purposes. Clearly gambling is driving the huge success of the NFL and just as clear is the perception is becoming stronger every week that something stinks in Denmark………and the NFL. Way too many hands in the pot of decision making on the field leads to more opportunity for an individual to be “persuaded” to favor one team over another or to make sure a certain line is achieved for gambling. The NFL feels it’s invincible. Even after being slapped down in court over and over again they arrogantly trod on poo-pooing rules of law. Anyone who thinks the NFL is above working with the wise guys is just fooling themselves.

  42. Only games outside of 1:00pm get “extra attention” What moron thought of this?

    I was at the Jags-Ravens game where the ravens got a handed a loss that should have been a win. That game didn’t matter because it started at 1PM?

    Seriously. is this problem so large that suits in this billion dollar corporation can’t figure this out? Fix the problem…EVERYWHERE…don’t just put a band-aid on a gusher.

  43. omegalh says:
    Dec 2, 2015 11:17 AM
    With the number of genius commenters we have here, it wouldn’t be hard to get 16-32 people on game day to help out at the cost of free beer.
    ______________

    Throw shade if you must but a lot of what we see every week a chimp could do better.
    It doesn’t seem like all that long ago the NFL was neck and neck with the NHL for decent quality officiating as compared to MLB and the NBA, kind of ironic when we consider they are much harder to officiate. That’s not say it was great but it was better and overall judgement calls and mistakes were just that and after a day or 2 we could live with most of them. Now it seems like there are more egregious mistakes in a week than there used to be in a season. Serious change is needed if the public’s faith in the game is to be salvaged.

    Just a few years ago only the yahoos would scream the fix was in on a particular play, unless GB or NE were involved then the hateroids all screamed just like they still do. Yet here we are today with regular fans questioning the motivation behind calls and the validity of results every week. I don’t watch the NBA anymore precisely for that reason. The league office has had serious credibility problems for a long time but it didn’t make me question the integrity of a game outcome once the players took the field, now I do doubt the integrity of the product on the field and if it continues at this rate all doubt will be removed in fairly short order. From what I see posted here, elsewhere online and in the daily conversations I have I know I am not alone in feeling that way. The supposed stewards of our game are destroying it incrementally. They have turned it into a mansion built on sand

  44. Or how about you make it so these officials can actually read the rulebook and understand stand the rules. Maybe we need smarter referees or not have lawyers righting the rulebook

  45. @expertatnfl says:
    Dec 2, 2015 11:17 AM
    Have a separate camera focused on each player with an official watching. If that official sees that player commit a penalty in real time, then he buzzes down to the head official. In addition, the video feed from the camera should be processed so that the identity of the player is hidden.

    This is technically and financially feasible, but I don’t think the league wants to move away from their influence over who wins and loses.

    ________________________________________
    So you want the owners and NFL to add an additional 22
    cameras per game plus 22 individuals to monitor them, one for each player.
    Develop the Tech. that allows for each camera to secret the ID of the player and you believe this is cost effective.
    Where does this stuff come from????????

  46. So the NFL will make sure Tom Brady,Gronk and Robert Kraft are happy with the officiating. The NFL is following the WWE business model. What a farce.

  47. Based on the original 2015 schedule, here is a quick breakdown of games for each team that would NOT have the extra officials coverage:

    2 = DEN, SEA
    5 = ARI, DAL, SD, SF
    6 = GB, OAK
    7 = NE
    8 = BAL, NYG, PIT
    8 + Thanksgiving early game = PHI
    8 + Thanksgiving early game + London = DET
    9 + London = KC
    10 = CIN, IND
    10 + London = MIA
    11 + London = BUF, NYJ
    12 = CAR, CLE, MIN, NO, STL
    13 = ATL, CHI, TB, WAS
    13 + London = JAX
    14 = HOU, TEN

    Seems fair, right?

  48. The NFL doesn’t want to get it right, it wants to give the impression of getting it right by giving help to high profile games but screw everybody else. They don’t want to fix the problem, which is the problem with most issues in the NFL, they just want to put some window dressing on it to try to get it out of the spotlight. Same mentality they used with Brady and how did that work out. They still haven’t addressed the issue of how the balls are handled, they just figured if they harassed Brady, 31 other fan bases would at least be happy. Goodell has to go, there is no other solution. He may make the owners happy now but when some fans get some balls and refuse to spend any money that provides profit to the NFL, then his actions wont make the owners happy. I don’t buy NFL gear, I don’t go to games, I don’t support any vendor that advertises during NFL games. When others get the courage to do that, then we will get our football back.

  49. I’m not sure full-time officials is the solution. A rulebook that is in dire need of an update is the issue.

    What is a catch?
    What is defensive holding / illegal contact?
    The list goes on and on…

  50. Right…because we want league officials in an office in another timezone watching a game on TV to be able to push a button and call a penalty.

    This is a mess. Clean up the Rulebook Roger.

  51. armoderate says:
    Dec 2, 2015 12:09 PM
    So the NFL will make sure Tom Brady,Gronk and Robert Kraft are happy with the officiating. The NFL is following the WWE business model. What a farce.
    _______________

    “Just a few years ago only the yahoos would scream the fix was in on a particular play, unless GB or NE were involved then the hateroids all screamed just like they still do.”

    Thanks for making my point. I am a Giants guy but it is impossible to be on these boards and avoid this sentiment. It is particularly funny when it comes to NE since the league orchestrated an off field hatchet job of epic proportions on them and given a choice Goodell would rather eat glass than hand them another trophy.

  52. Here’s the problem….replay became a way to review bad calls, only a limited amount of plays are reviewable, social media has enabled immediate review of a questionable call, so, the league should either a) review all calls or b) remove instant replay.

    Plays happen in real time. The human element will never go away. However, it will be instantly and heavily scrutinized on social networks. Either it has to be able to be fixed correctly 100% of the time or it has to be what the refs saw on the field in real time. No in between.

  53. thetwilightsown says:
    Dec 2, 2015 12:14 PM

    Lolz at every Patriot fan suddenly mad at Goodell again and certain – CERTAIN – this is all about the Patriots.

    Good gawd that bandwagon is gonna crash HARD.
    ——-

    not sure why you think Patriots fans think it is all about them. sure, we’re pissed, but there are fans from a lot of fan bases that are pissed.

    There’s a certain subset of fans that are not unlike Rex…..they’re obsessed with the Patriots/Patriots fans and only seem to notice comments made by them.

    Look, we realize the success our team has had for the last 15 years isn’t going to last forever, but I don’t know why people have to rain on our parade all the time. Well on second thought, I do. But it tells more about them than I think they realize.

  54. I would love to see – and probably would pay to see – a game reviewed by a respected former official. I mean after the fact – and maybe just a quarter and maybe just a preseason game.

    What I mean is REALLY scrutinized. As best as possible for the available camera angles.

    “There is holding on every play” is a common statement. Well, is there? And if so, what get’s called and what doesn’t and why?

    What is or isn’t pass interference and why? I’d love to see a large sample in a real game analyzed.

    I think it would be very informative. The players presumably get that kind of instruction from the league. I’d like to see us fans get it too.

  55. Cement shoes for the comedian changing calls in the control room is your first change to make

  56. So the Jets/Giants at 1PM this week isn’t as important as Colts/Steelers? Both games have playoff implications. Who is the idiot that came up with this idea? Troy Vincent!

  57. This could work. The hi-profile games would be fair while the league office can still fix the majority of games without drawing attention.

  58. The more you tighten your grip, Goodell, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

  59. Additional and/or full-time officials drive up NFL cost…what’s Roger’s motivation to increase cost that isn’t off-set with more revenue?

    The only way these things happen are if revenues start to drop due to poor officiating…until then, there really is no financial motivation for Roger & Co to improve the situation…just continue to say that officiating really hasn’t gotten worse, its just that our TV’s and replays have gotten better at spotting it 😉

  60. Ah, yes, we can all see what this would do to the integrity of the game….oh, that’s right, there already is none so Goodell and his minions can’t make it any worse….right?……..sigh….I think once I see the Concussion movie, I’ll be done with the NFL….Thanks, Rog’.

  61. ebdug says:
    Dec 2, 2015 12:51 PM
    This could work. The hi-profile games would be fair while the league office can still fix the majority of games without drawing attention.
    —————–
    And the majority of the other games? So, they’re not fair…so what? I’m a Pats fan, if I’m a Lions fan or a Browns fan….I want my team to have the same chance for a fair win or loss as the “hi-profile” teams. Isn’t that what Goodell’s ‘integrity of the game’ is supposed to mean?

  62. margoadams says:
    Dec 2, 2015 12:48 PM
    So the Jets/Giants at 1PM this week isn’t as important as Colts/Steelers? Both games have playoff implications. Who is the idiot that came up with this idea? Troy Vincent!
    —————
    Absolutely. And how about the crew who officiated the Cardinals/49ers being so bad last week that they’re being taken off the night game….and given to the Pats/Eagles….gee, thanks, NFL. As a Pats fan…..I’m so looking forward to it…cough, cough.

  63. The game has grown in speed, skill and intensity. Why do they insist at still using only 7 officials? More eyes will see more. Plus they should add an eye on each booth that is continually assessing if the rules are being followed with each call. A 9 billion dollar business entrusted by old, slow people. This is very easy to fix.

  64. This is a damage control initiative and, because it’s a targeted response, takes away from game integrity goal. What will these bozos think of next?

  65. I dislike most things ESPN. But I was impressed with Matt Bowen’s analysis of whether Gronkowski has been treated fairly by the refs on his five OPI calls. That is exactly the type of training tool that needs to be provided to the refs. Analysis with context.
    Of course this type of training would never come from Blandino. He doesn’t have the field experience necessary to do the analysis and doesn’t have the football experience necessary to understand the importance of technique.
    While Bowen’s analysis happens to focus on Gronkowski and the Patriots, this is not a Patriots issue. It’s something that is a part of the changing nature of the game as bigger and bigger players are playing. Similar analysis can be done to clarify clearly executed catches, holds or any of a wide range of questionable calls.
    Food for thought there Blandino. Maybe next year you can come back and tell Florio that based on insightful analysis and context training of officials, there has been a 25% reduction in mistakes made by officials.

  66. Aha, the Goddell solution. Let’s create a rule that doesn’t work in all scenarios and gloss over that fact by halfassedly enforcing it.

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