Push for full-time officials is gaining traction

NFL: DEC 24 Eagles at Cowboys
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The NFL has commenced the process of proactively plugging leaks that could create significant complications for game, in an age of widespread legalized gambling. From cracking down on fake injuries to electronic devices and more, the NFL isn’t messing around when it comes to potential pathways for undermining the integrity of the game and the wagering on it.

Many within the league’s teams have argued that, if the league is going to worry about issues such as defenses faking injuries to slow down offenses and/or personnel on the sideline using cell phones or Apple watches to spread injury information during games, the league also should do something to address lingering issues with the quality of officiating. There’s currently a reason for some optimism.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the push for full-time officials is gaining some traction.

That doesn’t mean it will happen, or that it will be as clear and clean as all officials immediately devoting full professional efforts to officiating. The league may allow (for example) the officials who currently moonlight to continue to do so, with new officials being required to take full-time jobs with no other professional responsibilities.

Regardless of when it finally happens that all officials are full-time employees, it needs to happen. The officials should all live in the same city. They should meet in person every Tuesday and/or Wednesday to review and discuss calls collectively, with the goal of ensuring consistency.

Their full work duties should be devoted to knowing the rulebook and how to properly and consistently apply it. When not studying the rulebook, they should be determining how to properly use the rules via simulations. When not doing that, they should be working out. When not doing that, they should be officiating offseason workouts and training-camp practices.

For most officials, the NFL gig is a side hustle, one that potentially gets short shrift when considering other professional and personal responsibilities. That’s unacceptable. The officiating function is far too important to be a part-time gig.

Even if making officials full-time employees doesn’t dramatically increase the accuracy and consistency of calls, it will allow the NFL to say it’s investing the time, money, and effort to get it right.

While it’s too early to know when the move toward full-time officials will be made, the point for now is that the effort is gaining traction. And it should. The NFL needs to prioritize everything about the officiating function. The NFL needs to be able to truthfully declare that it has done everything in its power to improve the process.

58 responses to “Push for full-time officials is gaining traction

  1. Maybe a good idea, but one that is far better is having an official in every game accessing all of the tv feeds to quickly review plays; allow for that ref to stop the play on a questionable call and then to buzz in validity of the on-field call. And, this would also allow the game to be stopped if a player appears to be staggering from a hit immediately.

    I am surprised with all the technology and ability to quickly replay things on tv that we don’t have an extra official that has access to every replay at his fingertips.

  2. Multi-billion dollar company hires part time employees. Walmart does the same thing for greeters.

    One job is really easy. The other changes the outcome of games.

  3. Doesn’t matter if they are full time or part time. What they need is accountability. Use technology and have a dedicated video official for every game. When on field officials screw up, discipline them. It doesn’t have to be this hard.

  4. I always admire your desire for transparency Mike, but it simply has never nor will ever exist.Maybe in a 1,000 years when hoomans have evolved into humans,but it ain’t happening in our lifetime.

  5. It is beyond ridiculous that the NFL doesn’t have full time officials. This is a multi-billion dollar business that has many millions of fans, observers, and bettors watching every game–and the league wants to use part-time employees as officials? That’s crazy, and certainly incompetent. In any other industry, using part-timers for such an important job would be unthinkable. Whoever came up with that idea would be fired immediately. There are literally billions of dollars riding on every game, whether through betting or television or concessions or merchandising or whatever. Part-time officials are basically a slap in the face to the integrity of the game. Wise up, NFL, and hire officials to work full time. We deserve that.

  6. This probably won’t impact actual in-game officiating as much as we would hope. But it could definitely provide some better communication and structure.

  7. Not needed. Completely ridiculous proposal. 20 days a year they are needed. They are not essential. What’s essential is the beer guy, the hot dog gal, and the nacho dude.

  8. I don’t think it will improve things all that much and if it doesn’t what then? Lets also consider that the NFL might actually lose half of their referees. For many of them this is a part time job and their real profession makes even more. Do the refs want to be full time and if not how many will the league lose if they say you have to choose from being a lawyer (yes many of them are) or being a ref?

    The officiating is far better than most want to give credit for. The game is extremely fast and there will always be bad calls, the leagues with full time officials aren’t any better.

  9. Agree on having full-time refs but …

    “The officials should all live in the same city. They should meet in person every Tuesday and/or Wednesday to review and discuss calls collectively”

    That is so last century thinking. There is zero need for refs to live in the same city and, to my point, would severely reduce the pool to select from qualified people.

    Meetings can be virtual. Required training time in person? Sure, but not 100% of the time. That’s ridiculous and completely unnecessary.

  10. As long as we’re willing to play dumb, the NFL Is going to take advantage of it. The NFL has had the technology available for years that can allow them to get every call right, and without any delays. In fact, they could actually speed up the games. A human being can’t possibly see all the different camera angles and zoom in, slow motion video that is available. We get to see some of the available video at home, but not all. Full time refs are still human beings. This solves absolutely nothing. Have you ever felt like a dog chasing his tail around a tree? It’s hilarious. Humans are supposed to be smarter. Maybe the hot dog vendors can work full time, too. But seriously, are we going to promise to never complain about the bad calls if they make full time refs?

  11. This is a good step but the real problem is the NFL isn’t using the technology enough to assist the officials.
    It doesn’t matter how many hours an official dedicates to their craft, a human being running around on the field can only be so good, and can’t possibly compete with the dozen or so high quality cameras zooming in from every angle, microchips in the balls, etc. There also needs to be a protocol in place to override the officials for obviously bad judgement calls.

  12. It is insane this hasn’t been the case for decades. How the NFL justifies part timers often determining game outcomes with billions of dollars on the line is crazy. They literally make billions every single year, just hire full time refs and give them an off season like the players with on-field work, brushing up on new rules/penalties etc… Even if it makes them 10% better and more consistent it will make the product better for probably a couple million extra dollars.

  13. The officiating is currently bad enough there are a couple of crews whose games I won’t watch at all.

  14. What’s ridiculous is it has taken this long. The NFL is worth how much money and they don’t even hire full time employees for their product? God forbid they get better at the job, who would ever want that?

  15. There have obviously been some terrible calls lately, but overall the refs do a good job, considering how fast the game is played and how many different aspects they need to see and process on the fly. I’m often amazed when they get calls right, like a catch down the sidelines where a receiver just barely got his toes in bounds.

    Watching on TV we are afforded a vantage point that refs on the field can’t see, not to mention the slow motion replays that often contradict the calls on the field.

    A better solution than full time refs would be a true sky judge concept who has the power to quickly overrule calls in the field without going through full replay review. There is no reason why the viewing public should have more ability to see the plays than the people actually making the calls.

  16. Full time may be a bit of a stretch, but at the very least they should have a schedule similar to players: they report to camp in July to go over situational calls, rules, etc. They spend the months after the Super Bowl doing the same thing. Bottom line is basically their bottom line: you have to make the pay worth it for them to quit their day job (not sure what the pay is currently ).

  17. They can view a player running down the sidelines to see if they have bent over a blade of grass on the white line – but they can set it up so that they can see if the ball leaves the hand of the center before the time clock hits 0. So if someone on the moon is looking down on it they might just wonder why. They cant review a play to see if the Defensive guy pushed the receiver or if the receiver pushed the Dback. The NFL doesnt want to call all these games in a totally impartial manner – they want it to be somewhat random. You know that the refereeing needs improvement if you have to scout the referees assigned to your game to see who calls what more closely than others. Full time officials and use technology.

  18. Not sure what would improve as a result of this when the definitions of a catch, roughing the passer, defensive and offensive holding and pass interference change with every game, and many times they change multiple times in the same game. I’ve also noticed many times over the last year or two that they are getting very liberal with allowing the tackles to get a slight head start in pass blocking. I’ve witnessed many times what I thought was a false start allowed to proceed.

  19. If Jerome Boger remains as a full time referee then we will know that the NFL isn’t serious about improving the officiating.

  20. Will these full time refs also start calling delay of game when the play clock hits 0? It has become accepted, and even explained to us like we are fools, that it is ok to watch the clock hit 0, then look left, look right, check the clock again, and then finally if the ball hasn’t been snapped yet, throw the flag. What the heck is that?

  21. Full time officials won’t fix much unless the NFL also has more official turnover and continuously gets rid of the poor performers.

  22. Long overdue. They should spend the week watching film and practicing and do post game press conferences to explain controversial calls.

  23. Maybe they should wait until the next round of negotiations when they can get a Trillion Dollars from the networks and streamers and then….maybe….they can slice out a portion of the profits to actually make sure the games end the way they are supposed to. It’s not just the officiating. Not having proper end zone cameras in a brand new state of the art stadium like Allegiant in Las Vegas where the Raiders were gifted a game tying touchdown with seconds remaining because they lacked a perpendicular or overhead view of the sideline was inexcusable. The NFL is driven by greed, simple as.

  24. Full time referees with a part time group of players that can run plays during the off season allowing them to practice officiating. They can certainly afford it. Half a day on the field and the rest in a classroom setting.

  25. I just don’t see how they can afford to pay full time refs.
    Where will they find the money?

  26. Couple points: (1) they better up the compensation cause some of these officials make a ton of dough at their day jobs; (2) they’ll lose some of the few good officials when they convert; and (3) a full time official likely won’t be any better if the don’t take other steps like address physical fitness, vision, accuracy and performance. No way will they ever live in one city, which isn’t necessary with today’s communication options.

  27. As much as I would like to see officials make zero mistakes, they are human beings so they will. Making them full-time employees isn’t going to change that nor forcing them to live in the same city. This is a classic example of identifying a problem, then supporting every idea that is thrown at it as the solution. A better idea is to have a grading system that is public much like MLB does for balls and strikes.

  28. The networks need to take these guys off TV. They are all working for a second TV career that pays more.

    If the refs just called what they see and not what they think they saw the league would be better off.

  29. Colin Cowherd made a good comment a long time ago. He said how are you not going to have mistakes when you have a bunch of 57 year old bankers trying to keep up with the best athletes in the world. Said with his typical humor.

  30. Full time officials would be a start. How about younger officials as well? Most of the current officials seem to be in their 50’s and 60’s and we expect them to keep up with some of the best athletes in the world in real time? That’s ludicrous. I’m 53 years old. My knees are shot. My back flares up. But these guys are gonna run down the sideline with Ja’Marr Chase?

    There also needs to be more accountability for poor performance. As it stands now, it takes an act of God to get an official out once they’re in. If you suck consistently, you should be let go!

  31. Part time or full time, it doesn’t matter unless they’re punished when they screw up and rewarded when they excel.
    You know, like regular real life employees…

  32. Add a freaking Sky Judge with ability to override bad calls & the game would improve significantly.

  33. Full time officials isn’t going to solve anything until the rule book is overhauled to eliminate judgement calls.

  34. The difference between a full time ref and a part time ref is absolutely nothing. You could have the youngest, greatest athletes in the world and it won’t matter. I’ll take an 80 year old man in a wheelchair with a video monitor, over 25 great athletic full time young studs trying to do it without video. The current referees are the best in the world, and no human being would be better. Full time is a joke. The joke’s on us. Folks, they’re not trying to get the calls right. They have to manipulate the TV audience to keep sponsors paying what they’re paying. Business 101. Would you rather watch a blowout or a one possession game? People that buy products want close games.

  35. Will never happen and even if it does this is window dressing to make it seem like the part time ref is the problem when we know they are coached to call games certain “ways” whenever possible.

    We know this. We’ve known it for years, it’s just that it looks worse and more obvious with legalized gambling and their partnership with the gambling sites.

    These are clear violations under RICO because it’s consumer fraud. I don’t think the DOJ is just going to ignore blatant oligarchian abuses that come out of 345 Park Ave.

  36. vizsla95 says:
    December 29, 2022 at 1:32 pm
    Will these full time refs also start calling delay of game when the play clock hits 0? It has become accepted, and even explained to us like we are fools, that it is ok to watch the clock hit 0, then look left, look right, check the clock again, and then finally if the ball hasn’t been snapped yet, throw the flag. What the heck is that?

    Kind of like the NBA. First they ignored the second step on a lay up. Now they let you get away with 3 or 4. Stupid.

  37. Two problems with this:
    1) Perception of game “fixing”. Most of the current refs make way more money in their day jobs than they would as full time refs. Going full time would actually increase the risk (or perception) of crooked refs being swayed by betting money or the NFL.
    2) Refs have to live in the same city?? OK boomer 😀

  38. I hope they’ll be picking up trash in the park during the off season.

    Great full time gig if you can get it.

  39. Does one seriously think that a full-time Jerome Boogers would be an improvement over the part-time one?

  40. If they do go in that direction the first thing that needs to happen is simplify the rules. There’s too much confusion around calls where the rules are too complex which leads to indecision and hesitation when quick calls need to be made. They also need to use technology better.

  41. NFL constantly offering up lip service about the integrity of the game while downplaying or ignoring demonstrably poor officiating and blatant blown calls that directly impact the outcome of games. And of course, flatly refusing to utilize technology that is proven and readily available simply because it wasn’t their idea.

    A single eye-in-the-sky official would fix at least 90% of the most egregious errors….but the league simply refuses to do it .

  42. The tasks listed in the article account for about 50-60 full days of work per year, because there really is not that much for officials to do during game weeks let alone between February and September. You will need to pay someone on the order of $150k/year to get them to take a full time job with this level of responsibility and publicity. It doesn’t seem to make sense.

    The main reason fans want full-time officials is because they want the satisfaction of seeing people fired on Tuesdays after bad calls. After about three weeks of giving maniacal fans the vengence they scream for the league will be down to about 60% of their officiating staffs – and they’ll start hiring replacements. Those have always worked great in the past.

  43. The league tried this 10 years ago. This site was among the vocal naysayers who turned public opinion against the league in trying to make the refereeing better.

    I guess it’s more to his benefit today for Florio to promote what is best than it was 10 years ago when he sided with the Refs union.

  44. Big push for full time officials is necessary now because the part timers aren’t good enough at fixing games and making it look legit.

    The appearance of integrity is at stake!!!

  45. Need full-time officiating crews who are randomly assigned to games. Also need a sky judge for each game. Most games have many cameras covering many angles.

    It would be great if the crew is assigned to a game wasn’t publicly known until game time. Keeping that a secret until just before the game is probably unrealistic.

  46. Won’t happen, because the NFL has no integrity to begin with. You constantly make excuses for the way the NFL clearly rigs games to have their fairy tale endings. The media is as much to blame as the league. Look at the way everybody has been so definite that Tampa will be in the playoffs. Why? Their pathetic play this season and their record don’t reflect this certainty that all broadcasters seem to have. Then why is everybody so convinced that Tampa will be in the playoffs? It’s because the NFL wants Tom Brady in the playoffs. It’s time the news media stops providing cover for the NFL. But you won’t. Why? When it comes time to renew contracts, do you really think the NFL will do business with any network that calls out the NFL for rigging games? Nope. So the media will continue to provide cover for this totally corrupt sports league.

  47. icantstandwhitecastleanymore says:
    December 29, 2022 at 1:16 pm
    Agree on having full-time refs but …

    “The officials should all live in the same city. They should meet in person every Tuesday and/or Wednesday to review and discuss calls collectively”

    That is so last century thinking. There is zero need for refs to live in the same city and, to my point, would severely reduce the pool to select from qualified people.

    Meetings can be virtual. Required training time in person? Sure, but not 100% of the time. That’s ridiculous and completely unnecessary.


    Every single reputable study has proven teams work better and communicate better reaching goals and accomplishments quicker and more accurately when working in person. Human in person interaction has no replacement. People who think being locked away and doing everything virtually has become a problem in modern times pushed mostly by people who either are lazy or afraid of social situations. The easy way is not always the best way.

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