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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), as an acknowledgement of the part-time status of each arbiter.  This is referred to as the “dark period.”

Once May 15 rolls around, the NFL turns the lights back on, the dark period ends, and the officials receive a flurry of communications from the front office.  The communications contain memos about new rules, new rule interpretations, new officiating policies, crew assignments, and other human resources housekeeping items.  The NFL also cautions each official that they are not allowed to speak to the media unless vice president of officiating Dean Blandino gives his permission.

There will be news starting to trickle out of the NFL in the next several weeks about crew assignments, news about the officiating clinic later this summer, followed by training camp visits, then pre-season games.  We’ll continue to report offseason news as we get it.

We inch closer to the 2014 Pro Bowl!

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?"