After unprecedented referee turnover, 4 officials will try out to get the next promotion

The NFL is giving four of its officials the chance to audition to be future referees, or white hats. Since there are so few opportunities for the NFL to see how prospective referees would handle the new position, these preseason tryouts are very important. The NFL will assign the four officials to one preseason game where they will call all or part of the game from the referee position. Shawn Hochuli, Alex Kemp, Clay Martin, and Shawn Smith all auditioned for referee in the last two years and became white hats this year after unprecedented retirements. An audition doesn’t guarantee that the official will some day

Corrente: Tweak to fumble rule would change TD by AS-J to be A-OK in 2018

Reporting from Florham Park, N.J. A wording change in the rules would not reverse the touchdown that was controversially taken away from Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins last season. The play in question had Seferian-Jenkins, who had clear possession and had completed the catch process, running toward the end zone. As he approached the goal line, he lost his grip on the ball and quickly clutched it. This was not apparent during the live play, but was pretty clear from an end zone camera on replay. Even though he did not drop the ball by any means, the momentary loss of control

2018 rule changes

Shamarko Thomas ejected on helmet hit, first DQ of live-ball action since 2009

Colts safety Shamarko Thomas became the unwitting test case for the new helmet rule, as he was ejected in the fourth quarter of the first preseason game against the Seahawks. The helmet-to-helmet contact foul is the first ejection of the 2018 season. Thomas's hit is in a rare category. Football Zebras and Quirky Research have determined that the last time an ejection was assessed for an in-play hit -- not including fighting, punching, etc. -- was a flagrant fair-catch interference hit by Panthers cornerback Dante Wesley on Oct. 18, 2009 (video). As a technical matter, this is a hit on a defenseless receiver, which


No eight-person crew experiments this preseason

For the past several preseasons, the NFL has experimented with eight-person crews. Football Zebras has learned that experiment is on hold this year. Eight-person crews started in the NCAA. In college, the eighth official is the center judge, who lines up in the offensive backfield with the referee. NCAA umpires stay in their traditional position behind the defensive line. In 2010, the NFL switched the umpire to the offensive backfield due to safety reasons. Soon after, the NFL started experimenting with eight-person crews. But, the NFL could not add the center judge and move the umpire back to a location deemed unsafe. So, in the

Video: Spotting a punt that goes out of bounds When a punt goes out of bounds in the air, officials have to spot the ball at the point where the ball goes over the sideline. How do they determine the spot? It's an officiating mechanic that requires a little teamwork from the crew.