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NFL grooming players on officiating ‘fast track’


The NFL could soon see more former players become officials. The league is sending 14 former players and one active player to a pair of officiating clinics over the next three days.

The first clinic is tomorrow, March 13. It is the league’s Fast Track Clinic, run by the Football Officiating Academy and NFL Player Engagement — two initiatives of the NFL. Six player-officials are returning from last year’s clinic, as is current Bengals safety Chris Crocker. The keynote speaker is Super Bowl XLVIII referee Terry McAulay; last year’s clinic had referee Jerome Boger weeks off of his Super Bowl assignment.

The academy was established by the NFL to build interest in and increase awareness of officiating opportunities with a particular emphasis towards former athletes and inner-city youth. An initiative of the FOA also encourages female athletes to pursue officiating.

These NFL players will then join the annual Tom Beard Football Officiating Clinic on Friday and Saturday. That clinic features intense classroom and scrimmage-based instruction to a large group of applicants. The instructors at that clinic include current officials, such as referee McAulay, umpire Ruben Fowler, head linesman Wayne Mackie, back judge Greg Steed, line judge Tom Symonette, and field judge Bob Waggoner; former officials Gerry Austin, Johnny Grier, Jim Duke, and Ben Montgomery; NFL officiating scouts; and several college conferences’ coordinators of officials. While registration in this clinic is open to the general public, it is intended for elite candidates to hone their skills.


Currently, the NFL has two of its former players as officials: back judge Steve Freeman and head linesman Phil McKinnely.

The players that are attending this week’s clinics are listed below, with last year’s clinic participants in bold.

  • Charles Ali — Browns, Ravens
  • Chris Crocker — Browns, Falcons, Broncos, Bengals (current)
  • Rick DeMulling — Colts, Lions, Redskins
  • Paul Janus — Panthers, Lions
  • Garth Jax — Cardinals, Cowboys
  • Nate Jones —  Cowboys, Dolphins, Broncos, Patriots
  • Terry Killens —  Houston Oilers/Titans, 49ers, Seahawks
  • Moses Moreno —  Bears, Chargers
  • Mike Morton — Raiders, Rams, Packers, Colts
  • Kemp Rasmussen —  Panthers, Seahawks
  • Mike Roberg —  Buccaneers, Colts
  • Lance Schulters —  49ers, Titans, Dolphins, Falcons
  • William Thomas — Eagles, Raiders
  • Landon Trusty — Chargers
  • David Wohlabaugh —  Rams, Browns, Patriots
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Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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2 thoughts on “NFL grooming players on officiating ‘fast track’

  1. This could work very well. Paul Stewart moved from playing to reffing in the NHL; former Montreal Expo Ron LeFlore went into umpiring after his retirement (though he topped out at AAA).

    Ironically, Stewart was a enforcer during his playing days. Putting guys into the box must have come as second nature to him; he knew what to look for.

  2. Correction – LeFlore did not make it that high, apparently. I was working off the memory of reading in Sports Illustrated about his attending Umpiring School.

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