It appears that the NFL won’t have full-time officials heading into the 2019 season.
ESPN reported Thursday that the league suspended a program employing some of the league’s officials full time as part of its negotiations with the NFL Referees Association.
League, officials working on new deal
The two sides are negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expires on May 31, 2020.
The reported move by the NFL doesn’t mean that the league can’t reimplement the program that provided full-time employment for around 20 percent of the league’s 122 officials, according to the report.
It does mean that the officials who had full-time status no longer do — for now, at least.
The program is one that requires approval each year, according to the report.
The reason for the suspension of the program was not clear in the report, but it appears to be a negotiating tactic.
NFL officiating under scrutiny
The upside of having full-time officials is clear. Officials who don’t have to worry about other jobs will be able to focus on their jobs overseeing NFL games.
Officiating controversy is a significant topic of discussion in the league the wake of the NFC Championship debacle that saw the Los Angeles Rams advance to the Super Bowl past the New Orleans Saints aided by a blown pass interference call in the Rams’ favor.
The league voted to make pass interference calls eligible for coaches’ challenges and video review in the game’s aftermath.
Any move that appears to de-emphasize quality officiating is an invitation for criticism of the league from fans, coaches and players.
In 2012, the NFL used replacement officials before the league moved to resolve a lockout that resulted in three weeks of poorly officiated games.
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