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No mercy in the NFL



Teams play all 60 minutes no matter the score

College football made some news last week as Clemson played South Carolina State in an early season game where the haves play the have-nots. The game got so lopsided that both teams agreed to shorten the quarters and not play the entire 60-minute ball game.

High school football has a mechanism to shorten the game during a blowout. In many states, there will be a “running clock” in the second half when the point differential reaches a certain amount (usually 40 points). The clock will run in all situations except for an injury timeout, after a score or a charged timeout.

In extraordinary circumstance, both high school coaches can agree to shorten the game or begin the running clock earlier. That happened in a game I recently officiated there both coaches agreed to a running clock with around seven minutes left in the first half. The main goal of both coaches in a blowout is to get the game over without any injuries.

Well, there is no such relief in a NFL game. No matter the score, the game will be 60-minutes. Rule 4 of the NFL rule book does not allow the officials or teams to shorten or call the game before 60-minutes expire. The NFL has total points score as a tie-breaker for determining playoff teams. While it might not decide the outcome of a particular game, that 59th point scored with a minute left may decide if a team goes to the NFL playoffs.

For the officials, blowout games are harder to officiate than the close games that come down to the last play.

Us amateur officials get some relief in a blowout game. NFL officials must work all 60-minutes.

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?"