NFL suspends full-time officiating program

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With legalized gambling spreading, it’s more important than ever for the NFL to create the impression that it’s doing everything it can to ensure that officials get as many calls right as possible. And so, of course, the NFL has put its full-time officiating program on ice.

Kevin Seifert of reports that the league has shelved full-time officiating as part of ongoing labor discussions with the NFL Referees Association. This means that NFL officials will revert to being part-time employees, which presumably stinks for those NFL officials who had become full-time employees (and in turn given up their other part-time gigs).

It’s undoubtedly a bargaining tactic by the NFL, which showed in 2012 that it’s more than willing to compromise the quality of officiating (and in turn the integrity of the game) by locking out the officials and hiring replacements. After three embarrassing weekends, the league resolved the work stoppage.

The current labor deal between the NFL and its officials runs through March 2020. Which likely means that the NFL will once again be pennywise and pound foolish, undervaluing a function that become far more important as the NFL is poised to make millions more from the legalization of sports wagering.

63 responses to “NFL suspends full-time officiating program

  1. King Roger has the unique ability to make the absolutely worst decision on Every Single Issue. Period.

    How in the world does this guy keep his job?

  2. They need to save that money to give Goodell a raise. Money well spent I think (Sarcasm)!!! When will the insanity end and clean house of those jokers running the league?

  3. I don’t understand why “gambling” is more important than ‘enjoyment’ of the game. I don’t live in a state that has legalized gambling and it doesn’t matter. I go to Vegas and I don’t go to the Sports Book either and I don’t give a hoot if the refs get one wrong now and then and someone loses a bet. I only care as a ‘fan’ of the game.

    I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that gambling doesn’t overtake the game to the point where it doesn’t matter to the rest of us.

  4. I really fail to see how paying the officials a few million dollars more to be full time is not worth it in the long haul for a billion dollar business

  5. Full time refwrees aren’t necessary. These guys work games about 60 hrs per year. Sure, they blow some calls, just like refs in every other sport whether they’re full time or not. That won’t change.

  6. The part timers aren’t any more embarrassing than the regulars. For every “fail Mary” there’s countless blunders such as the NFC championship game.

  7. How can the most popular, most rich sports league in this country have its referees only as part time employees? These guys are a little more important than the peanut vendors.

  8. This, among other things, explains the mass exodus of qualified (and not so much) refs over the last few off-seasons. That must have seen the writing on the walls and said “enough”.

  9. Did any of you see that NFC Championship Game? I’m not convinced full time officiating has actually improved the integrity of the game.

  10. Great idea. With the new replay rules and referees retiring let’s squeeze the officials, what’s the worst that could happen?

  11. Dangerous game, NFL. If the super bowl ratings reach you anything, it’s that bad officiating to advance an agenda is not acceptable…or even interesting.

  12. “After three embarrassing weekends,…”

    Oh please.. the refs were a joke before then, during that time and have continued to be since.

  13. As bad as the officiating has been over the past few years, there is simply no way to maintain that those overpaid clowns behave as if their large six figure gig is a real “full time” job.

  14. “The NFL, which showed in 2012 that it’s more than willing to compromise the quality of officiating (and in turn the integrity of the game) by locking out the officials and hiring replacements.”


    Fun Fact: The replacement refs in 2012 actually performed at an equal level to the league’s normal referees. It’s been proven that having full time referees, actually does not improve the quality of officiating.

  15. They cant hire full time officials for genuine integrity of the game.

    But they pay roger goodell 40-50 million a year who spends millions more on ridiculous things like the wells report that countered basic science based based on “integrity of the game”

  16. With calls like what got missed in Rams/Saints, the NFL looks more and more like
    National Fixed League. Way easier to fire part time employees who did what they were told but made the wrong decision none the less in public’s eyes, than Full Time and, in theory, Fully Trained Full Time Employees.

  17. The next time you hear Roger talk about “protecting the shield”, I ask that you do three things.

    1) Have a cold beverage…once you are able to stop laughing at his unmitigated hypocrisy, that is.

    2) Consider all the complex rule changes and areas of emphasis brought to bear for the upcoming season… begin laughing anew.

    3) Substitute the word “shield” with the phrase “owner profits, player safety and game integrity be damned”.

  18. Like normal, the folks on the East coast like to put down us folk from the South and Midwest
    as not being educated. It sure seems the Commissioner is proving how wrong he is by these types of calls.

  19. Not like the replacement refs could’ve gotten the NFCCG any more wrong g than the regular refs, so I guess it doesnt really matter.

  20. This my friends is why the NFL sucks!! Makes zillions of dollars, but too cheap to train and keep a full time officiating staff. They could have the best officials in the world, for the most popular sport in the world, but no they just keep force feeding us GARBAGE officiating year after year!

  21. This is such an abjectly foolish move by the NFL. The integrity of the game should be paramount, yet the NFL simply refuses to do the logical thing and hire all full-time officials. using part-timers only makes a difficult situation worse. Apparently the NFL doesn’t see how foolish the league looks for doing this. The NFL makes billions but can’t hire full-time officials? Really?

  22. The stupidity and/or arrogance of NFL management is absolutely mind boggling. I suspect the cost of referees more or less amounts to a rounding error on the NFL’s income statement

  23. The NFL and it’s owners have used descriptive words like “entertainment” in lieu of “sporting event” in recent years. Seems like the small print on the tickets should obligate the NFL to more than WWF type effort. The average NFL ticket costs $100, and the NFL is fine with having the games decided by officials not players.

  24. I support the NFL’s decision.
    It’s THEIR league, THEIR business, so it’s no one else’s business how they operate.
    Has NBC hired full-time Constitutionalists (real ones, not democrats or academics) for their political programs? No. Why not?
    If the NBC’s position is that the NFL must hire full-time officials then NBC should hire full-time rules officials as well.

  25. If I didn’t love the Patriots, I would not watch this mess. Roger had completely destroyed any shred of integrity in what the league does. He stays with DirecTV for some extra money, not caring if fans can access games they want to see. Now this.

  26. Billionaire owners using stadiums built with taxpayer money and they can’t pay a for maybe a couple of hundred people to be professional referees.

  27. Having full-time officials is POINTLESS, other than a cosmetic PR move. Seriously, what VALUE is there?

    – it takes 15 years of experience to even reach the NFL level. Say on average they worked 15 games a year, that’s (15 yrs x 15 gms x 120 plays/gm) a MINIMUM 27,000 football plays they’ve already seen BEFORE enter the NFL. Think about that – they’ve seen the same football plays TWENTY SEVEN THOUSAND times plus whatever experience in the NFL too.

    – study film? Why? Players study film for opponent strategies and tactics. Officials don’t care if the offense is running a “Spider 2 Y Banana” – they watch the same player grouping assignment regardless.

    – staying in shape? Officials hardly move from their spots. There’s seven officials with SPECIFIC player assignments. The only “running” is maybe a short pass/long run and the Side Judge runs alongside to signal TD with the Back Judge. Otherwise, officials are still watching their grouping and not running down field.

  28. Kraft will be the one who negotiates with the refs once again. And the Patriots will keep getting the calls so really nothing will change.

  29. “the NFL, which showed in 2012 that it’s more than willing to compromise the quality of officiating (and in turn the integrity of the game) by locking out the officials and hiring replacements. After three embarrassing weekends, the league resolved the work stoppage.”

    The main issue was the retirement plan – up to then it was a defined benefit plan (income based on length of service), but the league wanted to move to 401(k) plan and download the investment risk to employees and lower funding obligations. The final agreement delayed the transition to 401(K) until 2016.

    In the end, the officials union caved and the NFL got what they wanted.

  30. It’s ok, the officals are paid to make the “calls” that the NFL wants them to make. At least this way, the officials have a side gig that they can always fall back on that if they make a mistake and actually make the correct call and not the call or non-call the NFL front ofice told them to make or not to make.

  31. Could anyone really tell the difference between the replacement refs and the idiots they trot out there on a weekly basis? It’s not like the level of officiating got drastically better once they returned.

  32. No worries, the refs can just moonlight working for FanDuel. Problem solved.

  33. I still say that making officials full time was a stupid idea, anyway. It won’t make them any better by being full time because no matter how many hours they sit in front of videos watching footage of games, when it comes to the live action, they will still get many of the calls wrong. And to prove that, just think about all the games we’ve seen where they looked at calls they made and still got it wrong.
    You cannot legislate the human factor out of the game, no matter what you do. In my opinion, what they ought to be doing is forming a committee of players, coaches, and officials and going over every inch of the rule book and getting rid of the stupid rules and making all the other ones much easier to understand. Then everyone would understand them much better.

  34. Whatever owners are responsible for this need to rethink this again. Having part time referee employees makes them very susceptible to outside gamblers and racketeers.

    Employee the refs full time; give them a good work wage.

  35. Just another example of labor negotiations where those with the money openly and brazenly extort those without. They’re not even trying to hide it anymore. ..cuz ‘Murica.

  36. So there are 122 NFL officials, and according to Google they make about $205K per year. That figure comes out to just over $25 Million, which is still less than Roger Goodell’s $31.7 Million.

  37. Great idea. With the new replay rules and referees retiring let’s squeeze the officials, what’s the worst that could happen?

    Don’t forget that gambling will be legal next year. Keep screwing over the people who have the power to affect outcomes and points and see what happens. Roger Goodell and the owners are repeating history of 100 years ago and the cheapness of Charlie Comiskey
    . hint: Chicago Black Sox

  38. The replacement refs would have seen Tommylee Lewis take the headshot in the NFCCG. Probably would have seen the 20 times Gronk was held in the AFCCG too.

  39. Everyone is going crazy over this issue for no good reason. Must be a slow sports day. Whenever you are negotiating any contract with any union, you have to gain leverage in order to get the things you really want out of the contract. So what is the union demanding? More legacy rights/benefits? A bump in pay? The NFL referee gig is a nice one if you can get it. Fly first clas and get paid $205k, plus per diem $, for working part time 20-25 weeks a year? How many of Us would sign up for that? The NFL is in the right on this issue. Sorry

  40. The replacement refs would have seen Tommylee Lewis take the headshot in the NFCCG. Probably would have seen the 20 times Gronk was held in the AFCCG too.
    I like Gronk. Love his style of play. But let’s be honest, Gronk pushes off as much as he’s held. He’s the Michael Irvin of tight-ends.

  41. Not having full-time officials is crazy. For the long-term survival of the sport I think it’s essential to get this done. Too many unacceptable calls or non-calls. C’mon NFL, fix this, it’s arguably your biggest problem – other than concussions.

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