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2016 NFL season is underway, officially speaking



Shawn Hochuli (Tennessee Titans)

May 15 means the start of the season for NFL officials

For NFL fans, the start of the NFL season happens in July with the opening of training camps. But for NFL officials, the start of the season is May 15. Bowing to the part-time status of the officials, the NFL has agreed to not communicate with the zebras from the end of the season until May 15, called the “dark period.”

Well, the offseason is over, and the officials will be peppered with all sorts of memos, rule books, case books and other manuals. The officials could communicate with the media during the dark period, but now the officials need permission from senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino before speaking to a reporter.

For a new hire, it is an intense time of learning what it takes to be a pro official.

A part of an NFL official’s transition back into the season is a mini-camp held next weekend. All the officials will come to the New York area, where a training staff will test the officials’ physical fitness. It was at this mini-camp last year where deep wing James Coleman suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and had to miss most of the season.  Jonah Monroe was a last-minute hire and Coleman was a “swing official” who floated among crews after he healed from his injury.

The NFL will announce the officials roster shortly after the mini-camp. The formal officiating clinic in Dallas takes place in July where the officials will do extensive video study, have break-out sessions among each position, and take a proctored rules test.

It seems like we were debating the Super Bowl officiating about two weeks ago. Another season is now upon us.

Photo: Donn Jones/Tennessee Titans

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?"