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7-man officiating crews wired up for 2014



Starting in 2014, all NFL officiating crews will be will be equipped with a microphone and earpiece that will enable them to communicate with each other during the game.  The NFL experimented with this technology in the 2013 preseason, as seen above with referee Ron Winter.   Several international soccer referees and linesmen have been using this technology for several years.

The NFL will make this equipment mandatory for 2014 in all games.  Vice president of officiating Dean Blandino says this technology will help speed up the game.  For instance, if the back judge has pass interference on the defense, he can communicate with the referee, “We have DPI down here at the 35 yard line.”  Or on a long gainer, the line judge can let the crew know, “It’s coming back, I have illegal formation.”  The new technology can also help officials confirm 11 players on offense and defense, and it can help the deep officials make sure they have all the receivers covered (“I have the motion man,” or “Trips left, I have the 81 in the middle”).

The communication system will be a push-to-talk variety, as opposed to having seven open microphones.

For several years officials have communicated with each other using hand signals and those signals have worked; however, the officials have to take their eyes off of the players they’re supposed to watch in order to communicate visually.  Now, with this new technology, the officials will be able to call the game clearly and quickly.

 Image: NFL/WNBC

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"