Mike Pereira thinks Aaron Rodgers “has a point” on best referees leaving for TV

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When it comes to the officiating function, the NFL is CHEAP.

Yeah, I said it. I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. After I say it right now.

CHEAP. With a capital CHEAP. They don’t pay, won’t pay, because they think they don’t need to pay. And they definitely don’t see the connection between paying more and getting better results.

Or they see it and they don’t care.

Remember the lockout of 2012? Commissioner Roger Goodell repeatedly boasted at the time that replacement officials would do just as well as the regular officials. Until they didn’t. As explained in Playmakers, some in the league office were amazed that the replacement-ref model didn’t implode well before the Fail Mary moment to cap Week Three of the regular season.

More recently, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers lamented the fact that the best referees leave for TV, where the money is way better. Fox rules analyst Mike Pereira spoke about the comments from Rodgers during Fox’s Super Bowl media availability.

I liked his logic, but it didn’t apply to me because I was already off the field and in the league office,” Pereira told Ryan Glasspiegel of the New York Post. “He has a point. I do feel that officiating is under-appreciated from the standpoint of the league. I think the job I had [as head of officiating] is the second-most important job in the league. I give Roger Goodell the No. 1 job, but I think what happens in officiating and the integrity of the game, I think that position is so important that if you get the right one you should do everything to not let them get away. . . .

“I don’t think it’s ever been looked at as a position, like the EVPs, in that top tier of executives, and I do think that’s where it belongs. It’s not ever been that way, and it isn’t that way in the NBA and MLB and I think it should be.”

Pereira is absolutely right. During the season, the head of officiating is (or at least should be) the most visible and vocal person in the league. In recent years, that role has been vacated, with executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent becoming the one who talks when circumstances require something to be said. (That said, Walt Anderson will do periodic pool reports, when a replay decision of significance occurs during a game.)

But the league continues to not value the position. Dean Blandino, who like Pereira once ran the officiating function for the NFL and now works with Pereira at Fox, told me more than five years ago that the NFL does not value the job.

“I think that there was a sense of, around the league office and some of the people in leadership positions, they didn’t value that position the way it should have been valued, and how important it is,” Blandino said in 2017. “During the season, other than the Commissioner, the head of officiating is probably the most public-facing person in the office. And those decisions that are made, I mean, these affect the outcome of games, and that’s your product on the field. . . . So I do feel that the position was not valued to where it should have been. And, look, you always like to feel that you provided value, and I would never want someone to fail to make myself look better, but I do believe that they never valued that position where it should have been, and maybe it’s a wake-up call for some people around the league.”

At the time, Al Riveron ran the operation. And it ultimately didn’t run well enough — especially during the pass interference replay-review debacle of 2019.

At some point, the NFL will have no choice but to devote more resources to the officiating function. The ongoing spread of legalized gambling will leave the NFL with no other option. Otherwise, the league will end up dealing with Congress, a possibly regulatory agency, and maybe even a grand-jury probe into whether incompetence has crossed the line into corruption.

So, NFL, stop being pennywise and pound foolish. Improve the officiating function. Spend the money necessary to do it. It’s a critical aspect of ensuring the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football.

46 responses to “Mike Pereira thinks Aaron Rodgers “has a point” on best referees leaving for TV

  1. The NFL won’t pay the officials because people don’t watch football to see the officials. In other words, the officials don’t directly generate revenue for the NFL.

    And that’s what the NFL is about these days – raking in as much cash as they can grab, regardless of the impact it has on the integrity of the game.

  2. The fact the the officials are not full time employees says all that needs to be said about the NFL. You won’t get better offiating until these guys can focus on their job year round. The NFL won’t do anything about it because they get the results they desire to drive rating.

  3. And as a result you get farcical games like the Refs vs. Bengals AFC championship game.

  4. How much should they be paid? I heard they make about $10,000 per game. That’s over $200K per year if you work preseason and postseason for a part time job.

  5. Todd Haley had a great point on Sirius, noting that full time officials would be able to learn the ebb n flow of strategy which would prevent then from wrongly anticipating calls.

  6. With all the ref errors in the KC Cinn game, more compensation will not fix the problem. Most refs are very successful in their nonfootball careers. Considering ref’s performance this year, the whole process should be evaluated. The league has nonsense rules. They use a small microsoft screen rather than the jumbotron to review replays. I am a Pats fan. Brady’s non fumble in the snow bowl is the correct call of a stupid rule. Ever changing catch rules, and the non use of tech are part of the core issue. Introduction of gambling will be a part of a future ref problem. I placed my bet on KC. After watching the AFC final, its a lock.

  7. Too many dumb rules.
    Under Blandino they started calling very minor ticky tack infractions.
    How did Riveron keep his job?
    Pereira is right, Goodell doesn’t care.

  8. Full time refs is the key. Paying for “weekend warriors” to officiate NFL games is a joke. Not the officials fault .. keep the good ones, hire the best college refs and train them correctly. It’s a billion dollar sport, officiate it as such.

  9. I disagree with a lot of your takes Florio, but this one I can find zero logical fault. Penny wise and pound foolish is the appropriate term. Just look at what happened after the conference championship games with NFL rigged trending on Twitter. Both games were poorly officiated and the AFC game was infuriating. Invest the money and spend the time, but also look to clean up the rule book (especially with holding of all kinds, and DB specific penalties). The problem will never be fully solved, but it could be greatly minimized.

  10. Sure like Gene Stredatore who decided to pull out an index card and fold it twice and put it between the ball and yard stick to determine if d the Raiders made a first down
    They make it up as they go along with impunity

  11. It’s a disaster in the making. Part-time, low paid officials coupled with legalized gambling? What could possibly go wrong??? /s

    The officials need to be full time employees of the NFL, trained by the NFL and policed by the NFL. It’s the only way of assuring that the ‘fix’ is not in.

  12. How much are we talking for the position? Is this something where they make a couple million or a couple hundred thousand? Either way they should be doing a better job regardless of pay. They work once a week. Other than that they should be doing some at home study or lower end games to further their craft. Judging by some of the calls made on Sundays I’m guessing that’s not the lifestyle. I remember after graduating HS I was offered a position to ref games. It was $25 a game for JV and $75 a game for varsity. This was in 2007. Imagine what it is per game for the NFL these days. Even if it’s $5000 a game. You do 4 games a month. Do the math, it’s good money and TV exposure. These refs want to be a part of the action. That’s why they wear their tight little shirts and insert themselves into the game with odd calls. It’s human nature.

  13. $$$ drives the NFLs decisions, so they probably will due to what you said in the second to last paragraph.

  14. Their salaries are undisclosed, but multiple sites are putting the number as of 2019 at $205,000. Seems ok for a part-time job to me. If it can be shown that more pay equals more accuracy, I’m all for it.

  15. Everyone thinks they and their colleagues should get more money. As for ‘leaving for TV’ … you could get a robot to say ‘I agree with the call on the field’. They almost never go against their friends.

  16. I don’t always agree with you, Florio, but you are 100% right on this. I just hope the league will realize before the game gets any worse. We spend too much time talking about bad calls and the league should be worried about that.

  17. Hopefully, pressure from the gambler corporations will force the NFL to professionalize the refs, just like the insurance industry forces building codes and safety standards.

  18. The league wants gray areas, vague verbiage to allow for “honest” mistakes and errors. The integrity of the game has been compromised over the past handful of years. For a league that wants their fans to pretend like only bud light exists, they’ve sold out in all facets and the integrity of the game is at an all time low.

  19. Most of the refs are getting a second paycheck from Vegas anyway, so I think they’re probably doing just fine.

  20. One would think with the onslaught of gambling that 1. They’d invest that much more into it to ensure game results are valid and well referee’d, and 2. if refs are paid well, they will be less likely to accept a bribe if approached. With Number 1 refs should be full time employees with their sole focus on officiating instead of making so little that they need to maintain another full time job.

  21. One thing is for certain….Aaron will do what it takes to keep the spotlight on him throughout Super Bowl week.

    “Hey everyone….I’m here and super important….did I tell you I’m going into a cave for darkness depravation??? Did you know I still haven’t made up my mind if I’m going to play this year or not……Guys?? Guys?? Hellooooo????”

  22. The fact that this league continues to operate with officials who can’t devote full time hours to the position is the most ridiculous thing in sports. On top of that, the officials the league employs are TOO OLD to keep up with some of the best athletes in the world in real time. I’m 53 years old, my knees are shot, my eyes aren’t what they used to be, and I’d be one of the YOUNGEST officials in the league!

    Hire younger, full time officials and watch the officiating improve greatly. Until then, it’ll always be what we currently have.

  23. How many actual refs are employed by the networks? 3? 4?

    It feels like this talk is overblown just because the few that do leave are high profile, which is why the networks throw money at them.

  24. I understand there needs to be improvement, but can we stop pretending things will get significantly better if the officials are full-time? The NBA has full-time officials and the officiating is still dreadful.

  25. Having old, part-time officials is another reason fewer fans are as devoted to the game as they used to be. The greed of the NFL is unlimited, even when it comes to cheaping out on protecting its own integrity.

  26. They get paid $200k per year for a part time job.

    You could far more easily argue that there are way too many elderly referees that have peaked long ago in the physical & mental domains that are critical for this job. Turnover is often a blessing in that a younger, far more capable referee almost always seems to take the place.

    Of course in that one year where they all had to be replaced there were mistakes. That was a waterfall. But a modest flow of turnover is & has been a great thing for NFL referees. This should not be a lifetime job like the Supreme Court.

  27. Look at the game that has been named the best game of the year, the Bills-Vikings game. When people talk about it, the first thing that comes up isn’t the thrilling comeback followed by the intense back-and-forth. It’s not the incredible one-handed catch by Jefferson. The first thing that invariably comes up is the awful officiating in that game. That is simply not healthy for the long-term outlook of the league.

  28. It is sports entertainment like WWW, not like real actual low-level college sports, the only desire of Roger is to get the desired outcome to promote “superstars” face of the NFL and certain teams to drive-up net profits from growing viewership. This Superbowl has what Roger wanted the next two NFL super stars and new faces of the NFL. So Roger does care, but the care is to get the best possible outcome based on his opinion to drive the ratings…pretty simple sports entertainment. NBA did this years ago once they figured out what Jordan exactly meant to the game.

  29. It’s mind-boggling that THIS is where they decide to pinch a few pennies… NFL Referees should be trained year round and paid somewhere near the League minimum for players.

  30. The rule book just needs to be overhauled so that there are no more ambiguous rules or room for “judgement calls”.

  31. It’s also entirely possible this “referee” fiasco is likely (ya think?) influenced by the billions involved and the desire for the outcome of some games to go a certain way—for this “entertainment product” that masks itself as competitive sport. Arguably it’s the most important part of the competition aspect of the game and anyone who’s watched it for years knows with 100% certainty the rules and officiating are NOT “the best they can do”. NO? There are examples every single week of inexplicable calls, calls that defy logic and what can be seen with the naked eye, nevermind the human bias factor.

  32. Maybe it’s time to consider employing undrafted and/or newly retired players as referees. They would offer the advantages of faster and broader field coverage, better eyesight, sharper insights into the “unseen” tactics of the game, and a motivation to excel. It would also be an opportunity for players to stay in the game. Just a thought.

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