Former NFL players Jones and Killens talk about being rookie zebras

The NFL officiating season has begun, the NFL Network interviewed former pro players and rookie officials Nate Jones and Terry Killens. They and Al Riveron, senior vice president of officiating, joined the program Good Morning Football. Jones and Killens are two of six new hires for 2019, and they join current down judge Phil McKinnely and back judge Steve Freeman as the only pro players currently on the officiating staff. Both officials spent time in the Officiating Development Program and both spent time as college football officials. "We want to stay near the game, spend time with our families and we don't

2019 officiating season underway with 6 new officials and 3 new referees

There's no ball drop, no champagne toasts at midnight, and it's not even a holiday, but May 15 is New Year's Day to NFL officials.  In fact, the only fanfare that indicates this is any day but normal is 124 NFL officials are expected to receive "Memo #1" in their e-mail from senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron. As of now, officials are now "in season" as preparation begins for the centennial season. Other than the 24 full-time officials (more accurately, these are year-round officials), the officiating staff goes into a dark period after playoff assignments are handed out. This allows

2018 rule changes

NFL adds approved ruling on fumble/safety reviews to casebook for playoffs

The NFL officiating department took the unusual, but not unprecedented, step of adding an approved ruling to the current casebook, effective for the postseason. Small tweaks have been made in the past entering the postseason, which is deemed to be equitable when everyone's record resets to 0-0. Last season, we noted that the replay standards that were heavy-handed in the regular season showed signs of aligning closer to the expected standard in the Wild Card round. This was even more apparent when a catch was upheld in the Super Bowl that might have been incomplete in the regular season. Last season,


Keeping up with the downs: Referee John Parry uses an old-school method for game administration Officials from pee-wee games to the Super Bowl all use a very simple piece of equipment to keep track of the downs. All officials wear an elastic band around their wrist and a loop attached to the band. The officials move the loop over their finger or fingers to show the down (for instance, according to the photo above, it is second down). Before the elastic band, officials tied two rubber bands together and that acted as a down indicator. Officials had to carry a few spares on the field, because the rubber bands would eventually break due to wear and exposure

Officials used to use a gunshot to signal the end to a quarter or half

It seems strange today, but NFL officials used to fire a starter's pistol to end each quarter. It's a mechanic that dated back to the start of pro football up until the NFL discontinued the practice starting in 1994. When the NFL was in its infancy and up through the 1960s, stadium clocks were not the official time and officials kept time on the field. It used to fall to the back judge to keep time. When the NFL expanded to six-man crews in 1965, the line judge took over timing duties. A member of the chain crew would normally carry