Head linesman George Hayward had to leave Sunday’s Bills-Patriots game with an injury near the end of the third quarter. We asked the league when our own Mark Schultz noticed that one official was missing in one of the highlight videos from the game. They confirmed there was an injury, but declined to discuss any further.
Former officiating supervisor Jim Daopolous tweeted us this afternoon to say Hayward “hurt his calf and was not able to finish the fourth quarter.”
Bill Leavy was the head referee for the crew.
When an official is injured during a regular season game, there are no alternate officials on the sideline, so a crew must adapt to “six-man mechanics.” After discussing the best options, the remaining members of the crew will reposition for the best possible coverage, likely taking into account prior experience and similarity in duties.
For Leavy’s crew, they decided to move side judge Keith Parham up to the line of scrimmage and work as head linesman. Keith Ferguson, the back judge, moved to the side judge position to balance the coverage on opposite sidelines. This moved the vacancy to the back judge position. In small-college games, there may only be six-man crews assigned, and those crews do not have a back judge.
Hayward is in his 22nd season and worked Super Bowl XLI at the end of the 2006 season.