"NFL Officiating Theoretically a Full-Time Job"
by: Michael L.  

 BTFS (1/5/02):  Football fans everywhere believe that NFL officials fly to games every week and spend three hours on the field each Sunday and then go home until next week.  Right?  Wrong!

 Every NFL official spends at least 15-20 hours or more weekly studying and breaking down video of the previous game.  The study these games play by play and at every angle possible.  The entire officiating crew engages in many telephone conversations to each other in which they discuss certain calls, game situations and rule interpretations.

 All officials are required to take a weekly written rules examination during the regular season.  During the off-season, all officials must submit a monthly rules examination.  These exams are not graded since the purpose of these exams is to keep the rules “fresh” in the officials’ minds.  Most officials spend at least 1 to 2 hours or more studying the rules and casebooks.

 Officials also must keep in shape to keep up with the speed and action of a professional football game.  Physical conditioning is a very important factor.  Daily workouts could last from 2 to 3 hours every day or even longer in some cases. 

 Officials at the Referee position (Crew Chief’s), they have the duty to submit game reports to the league office and write letters.  They also have to keep in close contact with the rest of their crew to discuss topics from game tape video to travel arrangements for next week’s game.  Officials are also given random drug and alcohol tests that could happen at anytime during the season.  This takes place at least twice a year.

 Most officials leave for their Sunday game, on Friday or early Saturday morning depending on where they are headed.  When they arrive in the city of their game, they attend a meeting with the rest of their crew in which they review more game tapes, conduct discussions and review rules exams.  On Sunday morning, they also conduct a pre-game meeting which outlines the entire game for them.

 So depending on which position you work at in the league, all officials roughly spend around 30-40 hours a week getting prepared for their upcoming game and at the same time they are working another full-time position in their regular life.  So as we sit back and watch our favorite officials work a game, just think of the preparation they went through to get mentally and physically prepared to work a great contest.


Article by:
Michael L.
Chief Webmaster
Behind the Football Stripes