Football Official

Football Official

Zebra

Somewhere in, NJ

Male, 62

I've officiated football for over 30 years, now in my 26th on the college level. I've worked NCAA playoffs at the Division II and III level. In addition, I've coached at the scholastic level and have been an educator for over 35 years. I have no interest whatsoever in being an NFL official! Ever!

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273 Questions

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Last Answer on August 05, 2017

Best Rated

Can football referees wear glasses?

Asked by brikhaus over 4 years ago

If they want to see, it's a big help. Seriously, yes. Whether they wear glasses or contacts, the important thing is they see the game properly. I wear glasses and, on average, I would say that maybe half the people I work with wear corrective lenses in some form. Years ago, while working high school, I had a pair of photo-grey glasses that changed to dark lenses in the sun. One day, a fan wasn't totally enthralled with my call and yelled out, 'Take off your sunglasses, you'll see the game a lot better'. I hadn't even thought about it until then. Needless to say, the next game those glasses stayed home.

When do football refs typically retire? How old were the oldest refs you've worked with?

Asked by Chip Shatz over 4 years ago

Does the phrase "drag them off kicking and screaming" sound familiar? To answer the second question first, I worked with a guy who was 72 when he left the field. He was still doing Division 2 and 3 college ball. He was sharp, in great shape, and he was just plain good. But it was time. And I guess that's the best answer; each official knows when it is time to step down. It is very much like retiring from your regular job - when is the right time? But doing this is a labor of love...and a little glory and ego. And I would say that in a lot of cases it is the camaraderie and bonding with fellow officials that keeps people on the field. And you don't want to give that up easily. On average, I would say that most high school and college officials step down in their late 50's up to their mid 60's. Guys are in better shape these days and work hard at it -- they aren't leaving without making sure it is the right thing for them.

Why do football referees have numbers on their jerseys?

Asked by Kappy.13 over 4 years ago

It's a simple identification process. Granted, the NFL has a pretty limited number of officials, but the idea is to accurately identify who is making the call. It isn't done on the college level or the high school level. There are numbers used in other sports, e.g. In New Jersey, high school wrestling officials have identifying numbers.

Can refs get fined or penalized for making bad calls?

Asked by sungod todd over 4 years ago

In the NFL, as well as all the major college conferences, officials are evaluated on every game. They are graded on good calls, poor calls, good no-calls, and bad no-calls. Those evaluations go into their ranking and, ultimately, into their promotion, retention, or release. In the case of egregious mistakes (e.g. giving a team a fifth down, blatantly mis-enforcing or interpreting a rule) an official -- or even an entire crew -- could be suspended or lose game assignments. Since that means no paycheck, I guess you could say they do get "fined".

How does the NFL decide who gets to ref the Super Bowl? Is it purely seniority, or are the refs "ranked" in some way?

Asked by cannonball! over 4 years ago

Appropriate that there would be a question on the eve of Super Bowl XLVII. There is sooooo much on the line in these contests that the NFL - any league and even the college conferences - has to have its best on the job. There are rankings and the best get to the top games. As I understand it, though, there is a rotation among the top officials so that the same referee (white hat) or other positions don't get the game every year. I mentioned the colleges. In one conference, for example, crews are assigned games up until the closing few weeks when games are more critical in deciding championships. For those late games, merit is the criteria for assigning the officials.

I am following up on a question you answered regarding "pushing the pile." Just to be clear, were you saying no penalty, but forward momentum should be ruled stopped? Or were you saying that the pushing can advance the ball?

Asked by cflanagan@edwardswildman.com almost 4 years ago

Pushing can move the pile.  But at some point you have forward progress stopped.  In close line play it is a massive scrum; you aren't calling helping the runner.  The wing officials - head linesman and line judge, the two on the line of scrimmage - are going to rule on that.

Here is the play in question. During a punt a member of the receiving team touches the ball which eventually gets into the endzone and is recovered by another member of the receiving team and is not advanced out of the endzone. Touchback or safety?

Asked by Rob almost 4 years ago

Touchback.  There is an old saying in officiating: a kick is a kick is a kick.  A kick remains that until it is possessed, and what you describe has no possession until the receiving team recovers it in the endzone.  Had the first receiver controlled the ball (possession) and then fumbled it into the endzone, then we have a safety.