Football Zebras™

Happy May 15: 2014 season begins for NFL officials

May 15 is a significant date for NFL officials.  It is the first day that the NFL starts communicating with their men in stripes.  As part of the union’s collective bargaining agreement, the NFL does not communicate with officials from January 1 to May 15 of each year (with the exception of playoff assignment communications),…

NFL discontinues officiating observer program

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Modern communications makes position redundant The NFL has discontinued its game observer program starting for the 2014 season.  Retired NFL officials usually filled these positions.  The eight game observers were informed that their services were no longer required after the 2013 season. Don Carlsen is a former NFL side judge who retired after the 2012…

U Garth DeFelice leaves field for regional supervisor post

Umpire Garth DeFelice watches the line as it closes in on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (David Silverman/New Engalnd Patriots)

Veteran’s move leaves 11 vacancies for 2014 Football Zebras exclusive Football Zebras can report that umpire Garth DeFelice will leave the field and become one of the regional supervisors for the officiating office. The supervisors have traditionally been the graders that evaluate the game tapes for accuracy in the officials’ calls. This position used to…

Turnover margin: 10 NFL officials not returning in 2014

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There will be at least 10 officials who will will not return to the field in 2014.  At the end of the season, five officials were confirmed to be retiring.  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…

Sarah Thomas promotion on hold for now with 2nd year in development program

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21 advanced training officials include 7 from ’13 taxi squad The NFL has released the names of the college officials who will participate in the 2014 advanced training program.  The list includes two women: Sarah Thomas returns for a second year and Maia Chaka joins the program for her first year. What is interesting about…

Wrolstad and Torbert new NFL referees

Two veterans replace the retired Green and Winter NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino confirmed to an Associated Press reporter yesterday that Ronald Torbert and Craig Wrolstad will be referees for the upcoming 2014 season.  Torbert and Wrolstad replace retired referees Scott Green and Ron Winter. Wrolstad has been a long time field judge on Ed Hochuli’s crew…

Former NFL official Gerald Hart passes away

Gerald E. Hart 1931-2014 Former NFL official Gerald Hart has passed away as reported by Ed Bouchette in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  He was 83. Hart, a native of New York, played football at West Point and Notre Dame.  He took up officiating after his playing career was over and joined the AFL in 1968 as…

NFL hires five more officials

Four new hires have collegiate referee experience Football Zebras has learned the names of five more college officials hired by the NFL, and that there will be a total of eleven new officials in 2014. Alex Kemp, Brad Allen, Scott Novak, Bryan Neale and Brad Freeman have been hired by the NFL according to various sources.…

NFL may have to change the way it appoints referees

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Vital proving grounds for white hat candidates no longer exist Commentary by Mark Schultz The NFL could be having a white hat problem in the next few years.  Several referees have put in 20 or more years of service, meaning that their retirement window is starting to open.  There are at least four referees now…

Speculation whirls around new referee hires

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NFL will hire from current roster Scott Green and Ron Winter have retired, opening up two slots at the referee position.  The NFL has not hired a referee straight out of college and into the NFL since the 1970 merger, so the two new white hats will come from the current roster of officials. In…