Football Official

Football Official


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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506 Questions


Last Answer on January 23, 2021

Best Rated

Do you think someone who's never really played organized football (beyond Pop Warner leagues) can still be a good ref at the college or pro level, assuming he knows the rulebook backward and forward?

Asked by aspiring zebra over 10 years ago

I think the answer is yes, with this caveat: You really need to work at it. That may seem obvious, but having played a sport, you have a "feel" for how it works and flows. Knowing the rules, mechanics, and philosophies is an absolute, whether you played the game or not. Applying them, interpreting them, that's where you need to work. It's like the law: there is the letter of the law (what the legislature created) and there is the spirit of the law (how it is interpreted and applied by the police and the courts). I believe you would need to be a true student of the game in order to do the job well, and that would take some time. In an earlier post, I noted that I knew an official who does both football and lacrosse. He felt he was a better lacrosse official because he didn't play the game. The reason: he had to work at it more.

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! about 10 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.

1st down at 9...QB sacked at 25.
2nd down at 25, 20 yd gain, but holding downfield on O at 10.
Decline P: 3rd down at 5
Accept P: 2nd down at 20(or 15?)
Is that correct? Sorry to need to clarify, just seems odd that O can gain yds and not lose down.

Asked by J.Best over 9 years ago

Everything is dependent on where the foul occurs.  In this scenario, the hold is at the 10, behind the basic spot (where the run ended).  Enforcement is from the ten if the penalty is accepted.  So if it is accepted, it is 2nd and goal at the 20.

Can refs get fined or penalized for making bad calls?

Asked by sungod todd about 10 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".

Why do football referees have numbers on their jerseys?

Asked by Kappy.13 about 10 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.

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

Asked by Chip Shatz about 10 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.

If a punt touches a receiver but does not gain possession, hits the receiver's end zone, then he grabs it on a bounce and takes a knee, should that be a touchback or a safety?

Asked by JF over 9 years ago

There's an old saying: A kick is a kick is a kick.  What you're describing is a kick.  The kick is what put the ball in the endzone (since there was no possession by the receiver).  And a kick in the endzone is a touchback.