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 officials to have uninterrupted time at their other occupations, as a trade off for the inconveniences during the season. The dark period is specifically mandated by the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the officials.
In the first memo, officials will be brought up to speed on the new rules enacted in March, although all of the technical parameters and interpretations are usually not quite hammered out at this point. There will also be an open-book rules test, particularly centered around the new rules, with questions usually couched in complicated scenarios like multiple fouls and/or turnovers. There will also be a formal welcome of 6 new officials and a word of thanks for 4 who retired. Additionally, it is expected that officials will receive more information on the logistics of the reconfiguration of the replay booth.
It appears that there will be a bench of 3 swing officials who will be rotated into various crews through the season, maintaining one on the line of scrimmage and one in a deep wing position, while adding a swing umpire this year.
The officiating season begins with Super Bowl referee John Parry leaving for ESPN, the second consecutive season the Super Bowl white hat has retired. In addition, Walt Coleman will not take the NFL field for the first time since the Reagan administration, and the stalwart 22-year veteran Pete Morelli has also retired, continuing a precipitous drain of talented senior referees.
Although there are still three officials that will be debuting at the referee position, Riveron must be hoping for a normal start to his third season at the helm of the officiating department. His first season came right after the abrupt departure of Dean Blandino, and last year he had two referees defect to network television in June, long after the season preparations began.
Leaving the field
|R||65||Walt Coleman||30||Arkansas||dairy processor manager|
|R||132||John Parry||19||Purdue||financial adviser|
|R||135||Pete Morelli||22||St. Mary’s||retired high school principal|
|DJ||22||Steve Stelljes||17||Friends||business planning manager|
|DJ||94||Hugo Cruz*||4||Texas-Pan American||investment manager|
*Fired during the 2018 season.
|U||148||Terry Killens||6†||American Athletic||former NFL player; AAF official|
|LJ||163||Patrick Holt||1||Big Ten||2017 Big Ten Championship, 2017 National Championship; AAF official|
|LJ||172||Tripp Sutter||1||Big Ten||2016 Sugar Bowl, 2018 National Championship; AAF official|
|SJ||142||Nate Jones||6†||Pac-12||former NFL player; AAF official|
|FJ||170||Dave Hawkshaw||3‡||Canadian Football League||2017 Grey Cup|
|BJ||158||Jimmy Russell||2||SEC||2017 Orange Bowl, 2018 Rose Bowl; AAF official|
Positions subject to change. Shown with position, uniform number, and number of years in the NFL development programs. †3 seasons in development program for former players. ‡3 seasons in the NFL-CFL joint development program.
Promoted to referee
|R||1||Scott Novak||6||SJ (2014-16, 2018), FJ (2017)||Phoenix||sales manager|
|R||29||Adrian Hill||10||LJ (2010-13), FJ (2014-16), SJ (2017-18)||Buffalo||software engineer|
|R||126||Brad Rogers||3||FJ (2017-18)||Lubbock Christian||college professor|
§includes 2019 season