#NFL100: A Football Zebras feature series
NFL officials didn't always wear black and white striped shirts. To commemorate the 100th NFL season, Football Zebras takes a look back at how the third team dressed for a game.
No stripes to be found (1920-40)
At the league's founding, the NFL required its officials to
Forty years ago this fall, NFL officials had a radical new appearance. In 1979 the NFL put the referee in a different color cap, a new uniform design, and changed the way it issued officials' shirt numbers. But, by the end of the 1981 season, that numbering system was gone.
Officials from pee-wee games to the Super Bowl all use a very simple piece of equipment to keep track of the downs.
All officials wear an elastic band around their wrist and a loop attached to the band. The officials move the loop over their finger or fingers to show the
It seems strange today, but NFL officials used to fire a starter's pistol to end each quarter. It's a mechanic that dated back to the start of pro football up until the NFL discontinued the practice starting in 1994.
When the NFL was in its infancy and up through the 1960s,
NFL officials wear several pieces of equipment out on the field, draped around their neck, wrapped around their wrists and fingers and hooked on their belt. In the last 10 years, NFL officials are hooked up to several wireless devices to help them do their jobs.
Every NFL official takes the
This past weekend, NCAA referee Mike Defee and his crew worked in miserable conditions as The Air Force Academy hosted San Diego State (photo of crew in the downpour). Lightning halted the game for 88-minutes, then resumed with a near empty stadium.
Defee's crew started in their regular uniform. But after
Big 10 referee and Officiating Development Program official Don Willard made a mistake Saturday.
He faced the wrong way when announcing a foul. It can happen. It has happened to the best, many times.
But, the way he handled himself with a live microphone places him into nomination for referee announcement of
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If you get the chance, watch umpire Jeff Rice (number 44) work the Monday Night Football game tonight. Rice uses a finger whistle and he is a maestro using the piece of equipment.
Officials working with a finger whistle have to blow their whistle and then signal. Fellow
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It can be fun and games for the officials, too ... at the right time
When you officiate, you have to find humor in the game. You have to, or you'd go insane with all of arguing, berating, second-guessing and dangerous situations on the field. Officials can't (and
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It's 3rd-and-5. The quarterback is under center. The crowd is roaring. The quarterback barks hard and someone on the defensive line jumps. Flags fly and the wing officials come running to the referee to report an infraction. The referee intones, "Offside. Defense. Five yards. First down!" When