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Week 17 equals the end of a career for some NFL officials

We don’t know who, but some NFL officials may be working their last regular season game today.



We don’t know who, but some NFL officials are working their last regular season game today. We don’t have any names to announce as of publishing time, but some might trickle in during the Week 17 games. [Updates below]

In the past, network TV named officials that are retiring. The announcers make note of the official (even non-referees) and read a few career stats like years served and any other highlights, while the camera shows the official close up. Whether or not that happens is solely the decision of the TV crew and the officiating crew. During the pre-game conference, the referee may mention to the TV crew that he or a member of his crew is working their last regular season game. The TV crew is usually nice enough to devote 10 to 30 seconds mentioning the official.

So, who could be winding up their career today? It would be irresponsible speculation on our part to guess; however officials working 20 years or more could be a candidate to retire. Most NFL officials join the league in their 40s, so we can do some very rough math.

There is no mandatory retirement age. To the best of our knowledge the oldest on-field official has been age 68.

Some officials inform the league that they will retire before their last season starts. Others, during the wear and tear of the season, realize that it is time to go and let the NFL know they will retire at season’s end. Still others, at the end of the season, weigh the pros and cons of retirement and retire between January and March. 

Sometimes, the NFL pressures officials to retire to help manage roster turnover. That is a sad situation, because the official is rarely ready to retire when “asked” by the league. The NFL and the NFLRA (the officials’ union) does a good job protecting the officials’ dignity in those situations. In an even sadder situation, sometimes officials are not retained due to performance.

Whatever the situation, some officials are working their last game of their career today (or next to last if they are getting a playoff game).

We hope that the retiring officials have a great game and can leave the field with their heads held high and proud of their accomplishments.

We congratulate those officials for their career.

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?"