While it has been discussed for some time, and in the works for nearly as long, it was only made official yesterday that the NFL has begun hiring select officials on a full-time basis, promoting 21 current officials to such a status beginning with the upcoming 2017 season.
The arrangement is regarded as an experiment between the league and the NFL Referees Association, which will be used to guide future planning in this area. We could potentially be heading toward having all officials serve on a full-time basis, or the two sides could agree that the arrangement was not beneficial and the idea of full-time officials will fall by the wayside.
In a league statement, the new full-timers “represent a collaborative initiative intended to promote the common goal of improving every aspect of NFL officiating”, while the arrangement is part of “an effort to improve consistency, efficiency and accuracy”.
According to the statement, these new full-time officials “will work throughout the calendar year on game preparation and game administration, analyzing current game trends, communicating with the officiating roster, and assisting to ensure that there is a qualified pipeline of future officials through scouting efforts”.
NFL Senior Vice President Alberto Riveron said of the arrangement, “we believe that we will learn a great deal over the course of this initial year working with the full-time game officials”, adding, “our collective goal is to make a positive impact on NFL officiating overall”.
Among the most notable officials on the list of those who are now employed on a full-time basis are Walt Anderson, Jerome Boger, and Pete Morelli. Arguably the league’s most well-known official, Ed “Guns” Hochuli, is not on the list, as he no doubt makes too much during his day job as a sleeveless shirt salesman.
It is interesting to see this advancement in the same year in which the league has elected to make changes to the replay system that take responsibility away from the on-field officials in making a determination of whether or not the call on the field will stand.
It is important to note that those who are signed on a full-time basis are taken from a diverse group of officials serving in different roles, including back judges, line judges, field judges, down judges, umpires, and referees. Not all of the ones who get the microphones this year are going to be the full-time officials.