Football Zebras has learned that for the 2018 season, the NFL will once again have a replay official and a replay assistant assigned to each on-field officiating crew. This is a slight change in personnel which ends an assignment practice in place for 2 seasons.
When replay was reintroduced in 1999, the replay booth was staffed basically with two additional officiating department personnel that traveled with each crew. These titles have changed slightly over time as their roles evolved, and they are currently identified as the replay official and the replay assistant. In 2016, the replay assistants were detached from the crews and assigned on the local level, and only the replay official would stay with the crew. This expanded the replay assistant staff from 17 to 32, although this lead to some of the league’s experienced assistants being let go simply due to their home address.
Although one consideration appears to be to reduce travel costs, replay assistants were still flown in from out of town. For instance, we have been told the replay assistant assigned to Lambeau Field in Green Bay was a Dallas-based college replay official. During the postseason, with the exception of the Super Bowl, replay assistants did not work their home field, the same procedure that is followed with the clock operators.
There will still be local staff that work with the replay crew. This includes a job known in the operations manual as the “Teal Shirt,” the replay field communicator, seen in the above photo. The individual wearing the maroon shirt above — who functions as no more than an articulating swivel mount — is also part of the replay support staff, as is the booth communicator and the technician, all who will continue to be assigned at the local level.