NFL could soon regret not having full-time officials

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The deal is done, and the clock is ticking. By Thursday, the league’s game officials will decide whether to work this season, or not.

If they work, they’ll be traveling (by car, as often as possible) every weekend to game sites. They’ll have no preseason, no training camp visits, no real way to sharpen the saw before being thrown into the fray in Week One.

Bad calls will be inevitable. Media, fans, and those with money riding on the games won’t be inclined to understand if/when (when) obvious errors that can’t be fixed by replay review occur. Unless the league office has arranged for a wink-nod system of assisting the on-field officials (especially if games must proceed with crews as small as five), the stress will be unprecedented — apart from COVID-19 concerns.

Throw in the fact that most if not all officials have other jobs, each and every one of them must be tempted to take the non-refundable $30,000 payment and take a year off. They have other jobs, of course, because the NFL allows them to have other jobs. Because it’s far cheaper to have part-time officials than to have full-time officials. But if the NFL had full-time officials, the opt-out rate likely would be a lot lower than it may be.

It could be that some officials realize, despite assurances that their positions will be preserved in 2021, those who opt out without a clear medical reason for doing so may be viewed as persona non grata once they return. Or, perhaps more accurately, that those who stay will enjoy most favored nation status, better positioning them for promotions and other positive treatment post-pandemic.

Either way, the answers will come in the next three days. And there’s a chance the NFL will be scrambling to find more part-time employees to work the games, like the NFL did in 2012 during the officiating lockout.

10 responses to “NFL could soon regret not having full-time officials

  1. No worries, with college ball bailing on its players and fans and xfl tanked there will be a surplus of talented refs available for the nfl if needed.

  2. Because the NFLRA doesn’t *want* full time officials. It’s a union thing, and the NFLRA is a lot stronger than the NFLPA because they don’t have such massive turnover every year.

  3. It is a joke that the NFL doesn’t have full time refs . . . as they are such an important part of the game. A previous poster made the point that their will be a deep pool of refs to draw from if the NFL has a lot of refs make the opt out decision . . . I agree, but there are some significant differences between the college rules and pro rules, not sure about the XFL as I wasn’t one of the 20 people who watched those games.

  4. So, on top of everything else, even if there are games, it will be with many replacement refs……refs that get no practice. What a mess.

  5. The big “problem” with the officials is that most work white collar jobs and are seeing their full time employer make changes to the workplace to make it safe while the NFL is not doing so. Officials (especially at the NFL level) are frequently older in age (50+ is not uncommon), so them being cautious makes sense. They are being asked to take risks based on the least mature NFL players and possibly working in environments which appear to be ideal for spreading covid-indoors (depending on the city) with heavy physical exertion.

  6. Not to mention, the refs who opt out will be replaced by referees will minimal or no NFL experience. With no training camp or pre-season experience, we can expect a replay of the strike season, which was a disaster.

  7. Because it’s far cheaper to have part-time officials than to have full-time officials. But if the NFL had full-time officials, the opt-out rate likely would be a lot lower than it may be.

    Agree 100% with the first part but totally disagree with the 2nd half. I think if the NFL had full time refs their “opt out” would be paid a lot higher, like $60K-75K and considering their ages(a lot are over 50YO) there would be a lot more opting out!

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