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NFL to propose developmental league = more officiating opportunities

The NFL announced this week that it will propose a new developmental league to help train prospective players and provide opportunities for coaches, scouts and officials.

For over several years the NFL helped sponsor a developmental league, first the World League of American Football (WLAF) and NFL Europe.

There are several questions surrounding a developmental league. When would the season be held? How many games a season? How many teams? How much will the NFL be willing to invest in the league? How much profit or loss will the NFL be willing to accept? Would fans support a league, since many think football is at the saturation point?

And, for purposes of this article, who will officiate the league?

If the season runs during the spring and summer, this would be an ideal opportunity for college officials and others in the Officiating Development Program  (ODP).  The officials would be free to continue calling games in college during the fall and NFL preseason games in the summer and not have to give up their college schedule.

This could also be the chance for the NFL to placate fan, coach and pundit demands and hire full-time officials. A 12- to 15-week developmental league season would give NFL officials 32 to 35 weeks worth of calling games — mitigating the argument that there aren’t enough football games for full-time officials. Would the NFL want to pay their officials full-time? Would the officials, many of whom are in well-paying “day” jobs, want to give up their full-time vocation and commit to the NFL?

The NFL officials may not have to work all developmental league games. They could travel with the crews and tutor/mentor the ODP officials, observe their games, and report to the NFL about the trainee’s prospects to be a full-time NFL official.

The NFL will want to have assurances about the financial viability of any developmental league before committing to a new enterprise. Officiating concerns will very likely be towards the bottom the list.

But, such a league can only help officiating.

Photo: ODP official Maia Chaka

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Mark Schultz
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?"

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2 thoughts on “NFL to propose developmental league = more officiating opportunities

  1. R-r-r-i-g-h-t….”more opportunities” for who? Going to give those 4-5 replacements who did a GREAT job another shot? Not even the old and now new 21st Century criterium of skin or kin and now cup sizeswould help. “More opportunities” for those who don’t deserve to be there. Hire the GUYS with 15-20 years experience, not worry some PC quota.

  2. Jerome: You hit the nail on the head! They have watered down the staff so much by being PC that it’s almost 50/50 now on crews of who can officiating and who is there because…. So many good officials have been passed over it is scary. Good officials do not need a lot of training, they just need some guidance. The NFL has taken over college officiating and look how bad that is getting to be. A developmental league will only give them an excuse to continue to promote unqualified officials up to the NFL. It’s a shame what they’ve done to the staff. Art McNally must be going crazy!

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