There has been a lot of discussion on and off this season about the level of officiating. That, of course, has been nothing new, but there has also seemingly been more serious discussion about the nature of the NFL’s officiating this season, and about how they are employed and trained.
I have seen many discussions over the past months about the issue of part-time versus full-time officiating, and I have even written an article about a month or so I believe that touches on the issue. Which is why I felt as though it was worth pointing out something that league executive Troy Vincent told the Associated Press yesterday.
Vincent, who also was president of the NFLPA from 2004 to 2008, reported told the AP that he “expects the NFL to hire as many as 17 full-time officials this offseason”, a statement that is significant in multiple ways that merits exploration.
The first is what I believe to be the more obvious of the two, which is the inclusion of the term “full-time”. The league’s current officiating crew works exclusively as part-time employees, and they work other jobs outside of their responsibilities working for the NFL.
Vincent said that “full-time officials would allow the NFL to spend more time on training and consultation on a year-round basis”, which is the primary argument that proponents of the shift from part-time to full-time officials have put forth. A notable detractor of this idea has been former head of officiating Mike Pereira.
Last month, Pereira, who currently serves as a rules analyst for Fox Sports, wrote a guest piece for Monday Morning Quarterback, in which he laid out the argument against full-time officials, his most salient point being that it may force some of the league’s best officials to choose between working full-time for the NFL or staying with their other employment opportunities on a full-time basis.
His less convincing point was basically, “what are they going to be doing the whole time?”, which doesn’t strike me as overly compelling. There are many things the officials could do, including spending more time with teams during practices, which would be invaluable when it comes to getting everybody on the same page, including giving the officials opportunities to evaluate plays in real-time to make decisions.
As for the second interesting aspect of what Vincent said goes, he did say that the plan is to add 17 officials, which means that the league is seriously considering going from a seven-man officiating crew to eight, something that has been discussed in the past.
He told the AP that the league is studying the Big 12’s adaptation of an extra official. It’s also not entirely clear if only the 17 new officials would be full-time, with the others remaining part-time. Of course, all of these issues will be the point of several meetings over the course of the offseason. What we do know is that there is a very real possibility that the league is looking to make changes to their officiating.