There will be at least 10 officials who will will not return to the field in 2014. Â At the end of the season, five officials were confirmed to be retiring. Â A few weeks later, Football Zebras was first to report that Ron Winter had retired.
We now know that head linesman Mark Baltz, back judge Don Carey, and side judge Keith Parham will not be back for the 2014 season. In addition, Â back judge Billy Smith will be a replay official. (All four did not respond to our requests for comment; the league, citing longstanding practice, declined to comment.)
Mark Baltz officiated in the NFL for 26 seasons and, along with Walt Coleman, was the longest tenured official in the league in the 2013 season. Â BaltzÂ workedÂ 21 postseason games, including several conference championshipÂ rounds, but heÂ never officiated a Super Bowl, despite beingÂ the number one ranked head linesmanÂ on more than one occasion, according to reports. BaltzÂ officiatedÂ arguably the most exciting regular season game in modern history, when he worked the 1994 Broncos-Chiefs Monday Night Football game featuring John Elway and Joe Montana (video).
Don Carey, older brother of referee Mike Carey, was a NFL official for 19 seasons, worked Super Bowl XXXVII and served one year as a referee. Â After Bill Carollo retired, Don Carey was a referee pro tempore for the 2009 season. Â This was a one year assignment as the league wanted Clete Blakeman get more experience for appointing him referee. Â For 2010, Carey returned to the back judge position.
Keith Parham was a side judge for three seasons, most recently on Bill Leavy’s crew. Â Parham did not work any playoff games in his NFL career, and was involved in the controversial field goal play that kept the Pittsburgh Steelers from making the 2013 playoffs.
Billy Smith was a NFL back judge for 20 years and was the alternate back judge in Super Bowl XLIII. Â He has worked three divisional round postseason assignments since 2008.
Football Zebras is still confirming two additional positions opening up, bringing the total number of vacancies to 12.
The NFL willÂ notifyÂ returning officialsÂ ofÂ crew assignments on May 15 whenÂ the league begins communicating once again with their arbiters in stripes.Â At that time (or hopefully before then)Â we will learn the rest of the new hires.
Photos from Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Michael C. Hebert/New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears