Dean Blandino: We’ll head toward full-time refs, even if some quit


The NFL is moving toward having full-time referees, even if some refs aren’t willing to quit their other jobs.

NFL Senior V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino said on PFT Live that he is concerned some referees will quit if forced to go full-time because they make more money in their other jobs. But he said he ultimately expects the league to have full-time referees anyway.

“It’s certainly a concern,” Blandino said of some referees quitting. “When you look at our sport, football is different from other sports. We typically play once a week and as officiating has evolved, that’s why football officials have had other professions, because of the longer gap between games. So that’s a concern. We’re looking at it from a phased-in approach, and giving our referees the opportunity to have two or three years to phase into this and maybe phase out of their other professions. The concern is there, it’s real, you may lose some of your better people, but we think the benefits of full-time officiating outweigh those risks and we’re going to continue down that path.”

It seems likely that some referees would, in fact, choose not to be referees anymore if they were told they had to choose. Ed Hochuli, for instance, is a highly paid attorney who would be taking a big pay cut if he gave that up. But with the NFL paying referees six-figure salaries, most of them would probably stick with it. If the league is convinced it would improve officiating, then the league should make referees full-time employees.

43 responses to “Dean Blandino: We’ll head toward full-time refs, even if some quit

  1. Ok, so there might be a rough patch getting into it. Its still an improvement once past the rough patch so worth doing. The public can help here by having a little patience during that transition. They can still be upset over errors, but be more willing to accept its being worked on and recognize that progress.

  2. Ed Hochuli should stick with being an attorney (he has to better at that than as a ref).

    I don’t like hobbyists/moonlighters making critical decisions.

    But for what these guys are getting paid – it should be a full time job.

    The average NFL referee salary was $173,000 in 2013 – and is set to rise to $201,000 by 2019.

    Now if you aren’t interested in officiating games every week of the season, the NFL has true part time positions starting at $75,000.

    Seriously – if you want to be an NFL official – be an NFL official.

  3. Its about damned time. More off-season training will result in better officiating.

  4. As a person that leads an HR department, this is why I just don’t understand the league. I am taught to empathize with employees but to prioritize the company first. If the operation requires full time participation, you get with the program or get gone! Why would we cater to another company? You can’t work within our set parameters due to having other obligations? Okay well the choice is yours. So what if we lose our best talent. 340 million people in this country. The cream always rises to the top. Who knows what talent will emerge once they are required to work full time, learning year around instead of an occasional weekend. I choose the product over Ed Hochuli’s arms. Yea they may bring the guns out but this isn’t their show. They make it about them at every turn and i am glad it is finally going to stop

  5. Color me skeptical.

    If Hochuli is full time, it makes him a better referee how? Maybe just replace poor refs with new ones.

  6. The problem isn’t the refs it’s the league…
    Vague rules at times… confusion… this is okay to do today but not tomorrow… things like that.

    First replace Blandino… he does nothing but talk out the side of his lying mouth.

    Second quit expecting perfection in a game that humans play.. EVERYONE makes mistakes…. they have done it for years and yet NO ONE has died…

    It’s a game people.. NOT a way of life.

  7. Baseball has full-time umps. They still get some calls wrong. What makes the NFL think full-time refs will make a difference? This is a red herring.

  8. Honestly I dont understand the demand for full time refs. If you know the rules, understand the mechanics. What the hell you going to do all week. Its the stupidest thing, just reacting to some overreaction by media. Spending more time is not going to cure errors in judgement.

  9. If Hochuli can get 2-3 more years out of the NFL, he’ll easily walk into one of the network booth official gigs so he can remain a lawyer. He might be terrible at that job, but he has the best name recognition in the game so someone will give him a chance.

  10. Here’s why this is a stupid idea – lets say you have another career. If you give it up to be a ref and then lose your job, can you get back into your old career at the same level?

    And how do refs get started? The guys refing in college or high school aren’t full time. They have jobs outside of being a ref. When they reach the pros, they are expected to resign from their current jobs? That may be a big pay cut, and may cause some of the better prospects to say no.
    \And even if they do take the job, refs get fired, so they have to worry about being unemployable.

  11. The refs in 2016 had like a 97 percent accuracy rating. (granted that figure cam from an NFL Referee) After hearing one at a speaking engagement I am much less critical of the referees. and more critical of the NFL making the rules complicated. The majority do treat it like a full time job. but he did say that some make alot more money doing other things.

  12. The benefit of refs being FULL-TIME is that you can require them to get training 4 other days a week (you, know, like it is a 5 day a week job paying $200K).

    Refereeing will necessarily improve and those not committed to the job will get weeded out.

  13. Come on now, Get your NFL refs to call college games as well, and you now have them working at a higher rate, plus more back ups and even a system of call up / relegation for those who are good / bad… It ain’t that hard NFL, you just choose to make it hard… and it is hard to watch.

  14. NFL teams, players and its fans deserve refs that treat their jobs like a profession and not a hobby. If some don’t like it, there is always opportunities to ref high school games in their home towns.

  15. This is so stupid! Full time refs won’t make one bit of difference over the guys they have now. You’ll have just as many wrong calls with full time refs as you have now.

    The NFL is really paranoid because they saw their attendance dip some this past season. Goodell is shaking in his boots and thinking that he must do something to stop that trend. But he’s going about it all wrong.
    More rules is not the answer. On the contrary, it’s the problem. Everyone used to know what a catch is, but no one knows now — not even the officials.
    There are way too many rules and adding new ones or tweaking other ones will only add to the confusion and make the game even less enjoyable.
    Here’s what I know. Watching NFL games in the 1960’s and 1970’s was way more fun that it is now. I don’t care what anyone says.

  16. I say full time refs, mandatory physicals including eye exam every year and training classes during offseason to update them on league rules. Obviously if some Refs are not fulltime then they’re not 100% focused.

  17. 6 of one, half-dozen of the other.

    All it will do is encourage trolls to argue that the League controls the outcome of games because they fully employ the refs.

  18. Seems like a boring job other than the game itself…I mean what do the ref’s do during the week, over spring and summer?….sit and look at tape?

    Good Luck NFL with keeping the ref’s busy and keeping them interested in their job. Better be paying them a lot of $$$.

  19. The English Premier League plays once a week and the refs are full time. The NFL is one of the wealthiest leagues in the world. They can easily afford to pay refs to be full time. If the part timers don’t like it, then Bye Felicia

  20. making refs full time is all about control, nothing else. they are part of the game, mistakes and all, and nothing is going to eliminate that, nor should it. the human element is what makes any sport great, not the technology to break down every play into minutia.

  21. How about the rules committee first figures out WHAT IS A CATCH by setting clear criteria, then relay that to officials… And figure out what is and is not PI, or a pic play, THEN relay THAT to officials… so they know what is a damn foul in this league anymore??

    THEN you can blame the refs for screwing up the call.

  22. Let me see if I understand this. A full time ref will work during game action approximately 20 days a year for 3 hours = 60 hours and the 4 pre-season games don’t matter. Working the Playoffs will be determined by the highest rated refs.

    a typical employee in a normal job might work 50 weeks x 40 hours = 2,000 hours assuming 2 weeks vacation vs. 60 hours for a full time ref (48 hours regular season)

    What is the full -time ref suppose to do FULL-TIME? Watch film? Read the rules? The problem isn’t the refs knowledge of the rules. All refs in all sports will get calls wrong no matter what. If you want to get the calls right improve the replay system.

    Full time refs is going to have a worse effect as they will lose good refs. In my opinion, there is more to being a ref than knowing the rules. Experience counts. Dealing with the coaches and players and situations also is very important.

  23. Seems like a mixed message – make refs full time, but take away their power to be final authority for calls on the field.

    It’s probably best to leave it as it is, or at most, have one full-time ref on each team of them as leader.

  24. Its not like Full-Time refs wouldn’t have anything to do during the week. First, during OTA’s and training camp they can be there getting practice, which they can only do one or two days a week now. During the season, there is nothing stopping them from working with the local team to their home addresses, to get additional practice working with teams. This will help alleviate any issues teams have with understanding rules because they can have someone right there to answer their questions and set it straight. Players can be “coached up” on what they can and can’t do which will improve the game and improve the safety of the game. I have been advocating for full-time refs for 10 years now and I think the NFL finally realizes that you can’t have a multi-billion dollar operation and one of the most important components is part time. There are so many more things the NFL can do with these refs from training meetings, to getting smaller groups together and work on the best way to do every aspect of their job. This is a great decision and a great day for the NFL if they institute full-time refs.

  25. I think Hochuli is one of the better refs.

    I’ve read the rule book. It is full of part a, part b, part c, etc. kinds of situations — with exceptions.

    You need to be a bright lawyer to figure out exactly which rules apply in rarely-seen situations. Hochuli is good at that — and he’s not perfect.

    Just saying “learn the rules” or “simplify the rules” doesn’t work. It’s REALLY REALLY difficult to do either one.

    As full time referees, they could regularly take tests on some of these not-so-common situations. Give these folks some testing — with corrections in private and not on national TV — and they’ll get better.

    Hiring some really bright people (like Belichek or Pete Carroll, but they already have better-paying jobs) to construct the tests will uncover numerous inconsistencies nobody has discovered yet. And that will lead to better, simpler rules.

  26. I’ll believe “improved officiating” when one of my parlays hit. Right, brother degenerates?

  27. “When they reach the pros, they are expected to resign from their current jobs? That may be a big pay cut, and may cause some of the better prospects to say no.”


    A big pay cut to drop down to $175k per year? So you mean they’ll have to drop down from the top 1% of earners into the top 3%? Sounds rough, especially since their performance is evaluated for 60 hours a YEAR.

  28. Ref’s are fine,it’s the clowns who run the league. You can start off by having an ex referee be in charge of officials, and not changing rules every year. What constitutes a catch?

  29. If Hochuli makes so much money, why is he always wearing shirts that don’t seem to fit right?

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