There have been a lot of issues discussed about the state and nature of officiating in the NFL this offseason. There was a major change to the review process, for example, wherein decisions for reviews will ultimately come from the soon-to-be-vacant officiating VP position, rather than from an on-field official.
And yet the league is heading toward actually hiring full-time officials, which is something that has been talked about, both positively and negatively, for several years. For as much strife as there may have been between the players and the owners during the last CBA negotiations, let’s not forget that the officials went on strike just a couple of years ago.
But while we’re on the doorstep of full-time officials, however, there are still questions to be answered, according to NFLRA direction Scott Green. He told SiriusXM NFL Radio that they have been given very limited knowledge about some pretty important points, such as responsibilities and pay.
“Most of our guys don’t get in the league until their late 30s and early 40s”, he said. “Obviously, they’ve developed a career in whatever it might be elsewhere. The initial concern would be if the compensation is comparable to what they’re receiving currently”.
That is a pretty important point that probably doesn’t get considered enough. In spite of the fact that the officials are an obviously integral part of the game, they are really not paid any differently than any common personnel on any team that, for example, functions as an equipment manager.
“From a standpoint of job security”, Green said, “some of the guys may have professions that it’s not quite easy to go back to should they get hurt or let go as an NFL official”. Given the money that the league generates, of course, one would think that they could afford to sufficiently compensate their officials.
Another concern that Green raised during the interview was more of an on-field matter. He basically said that officials were tired of being tasked with officiating celebration penalties. “Nothing is worse than someone going 80 yards for a touchdown and then we’re trying to figure out does that warrant a flag for what he’s doing in the end zone”, he said.
“We don’t really enjoy that”, Green continued. “If we could get to a point where it would simply be fines by the league, that would be great. The issue we’ll still have is that guys can get pretty creative out there. The question of whether it’s a foul or not a foul, hopefully we’ll get closer to a more black and white situation”.
That doesn’t seem likely, to be honest.