NFL faces challenge of breaking in four new referees

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With four of 17 referees gone, four new referees are in. And that could make officiating even more challenging this year for the NFL.

“I’ve never been involved in a season where you went with four new referees, and four referees that really haven’t been around the league that long,” FOX’s Mike Pereira, a former NFL V.P. of officiating, told Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. “And first-year referees aren’t eligible for playoffs, so you’re going to dig deeper into the remaining stash of referees. That could create a problem, too.”

Gone are Jeff Triplette, Ed Hochuli, Gene Steratore, and Terry McAulay. And they may not be alone; according to Volin, four more referees (Walt Anderson, Walt Coleman, Pete Morelli, and Tony Corrente) could be walking away within the next year or two.

And referees aren’t like other officials. They wear the white hat, they run the crew, they speak to the audience. They are the names and faces that become the most recognizable, for better or worse, during football games.

The turnover comes at a time when there will be more pressure than ever on NFL officials. From the latest catch rule reboot to the new kickoff/kick return formations to a helmet rule that could revolutionize the game (in a bad way) to the looming proliferation of legalized gambling, officials will be expected now more than ever to get everything at a time when an unprecedented number of things can go wrong.

These new dynamics made it easy for McAulay to give up his whistle for a microphone.

“[McAulay] just said it didn’t make any sense not to take [NBC’s offer],” former NFL official and supervisor of officials Jim Daopoulos told Volin. “He got a three-year contract, and he doesn’t have to put up with everything now.”

For Steratore, according to Daopoulos, the move was more about chronic knee and back problems. Still, the end result is nearly 25 percent of the referees gone — and another near-25 percent to follow.

And if anyone remembers the officiating lockout of 2012, it’s clear (despite the NFL’s claim) that replacements aren’t nearly as good as the real thing. The NFL will need to get the referee replacements up to speed quickly, or the existing criticism of officiating will only get worse.


24 responses to “NFL faces challenge of breaking in four new referees

  1. Any of the new refs can’t be worse than Jeff “Forward Progress” Triplette.

  2. My gues is the new 4 will be pretty good, but the older referees will be the ones that continue to cause controversy. Either by being complacent or confused by the ever changing and inconsistent rule changes throughout there careers.

  3. “The turnover comes at a time when there will be more pressure than ever on NFL officials. From the latest catch rule reboot to the new kickoff/kick return formations to a helmet rule that could revolutionize the game”

    Which NONE of the rule changes affect the head referee position.

    The referee only watches the quarterback position on run and pass plays. On special team plays, he only watches the kicker/punter for illegal contact.

    Catch rules affect the Down Judge, Side Judge, Back Judge and Field Judge.

  4. This year is going to be worse than when the league tried to crush the official,s union. Get ready for 4 hour games and a flag and review fest.

  5. Cross your fingers, maybe, just maybe, the next Generation is BETTER!! Frankly, I’m not sure they could be any worse ….

  6. All ref’s will make some bad calls here & there, and over time fans of most teams will grow to dislike them. No such thing as a ref everybody (or anybody?) likes.
    NFL needs to employ electronic technology to determine ball placement. Take that call out of the ref’s hands.

  7. phillyphever says:
    June 30, 2018 at 12:48 pm
    Any of the new refs can’t be worse than Jeff “Forward Progress” Triplette.
    One of the most asinine calls I’ve ever seen. I hope he was forced to retire and that crap call was the final straw.

  8. I love all the shots at the replacement refs because everyone forgets that when the normal refs got back they were sooo bad. I remember a game first week when they got back where a rb got called down while standing straight up. And it’s not a knocking the rust off thing. I think it was the year GB won the Superbowl every wildcard game had a disasterous call in the last 5 min of the game that cost some teams the game and could have cost other teams them.

  9. How hard can it be to train four new people to make up the rules as they go?

  10. interesting . . . . first year the league has legalized gambling is the first year they have a never before 4 new starting refs. very interesting.

  11. After playing and coaching for 25 yrs i got into officiating of which i am retiring from after 13 yrs. Make no mistake football officiating is the classic ole boys network ripe with nepotism and ass kissing. Perfect examples are Hochuli and steratore’s kids who shot the ranks even though there are thousands of d3 college officials that were every bit as good as they were. McCauley earned his stripes when he wouldn’t cross the picket line during the officials strike and then proceeded to blackball any official who worked in that period. Officials are now promoted for anything other than ability. It helps to be a person of color or a female but most importantly a relative or friend. I have no axe to grind as i was much too old when i started to have any nfl aspirations but i worked with a ton of college guys that had legitimate gripes along with great ability and never even got a sniff

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