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Former NFL players Jones and Killens talk about being rookie zebras



The NFL officiating season has begun, the NFL Network interviewed former pro players and rookie officials Nate Jones and Terry Killens. They and Al Riveron, senior vice president of officiating, joined the program Good Morning Football.

Jones and Killens are two of six new hires for 2019, and they join current down judge Phil McKinnely and back judge Steve Freeman as the only pro players currently on the officiating staff. Both officials spent time in the Officiating Development Program and both spent time as college football officials.

“We want to stay near the game, spend time with our families and we don’t care who wins or loses,” Jones said, when asked why he came back to the game as an official instead of a coach. “I tried it all,” Killens said. “I tried sports radio. I tried coaching. It just didn’t grab me. Once I got on the football field as an official, it grabbed me,” he explained.

Riveron said Killens and Jones have the tools to become good NFL officials. “First of all, they’re good men,” Riveron said. He added, “They’re not here because they’re ex-players. They’ve put in their time (as amateur officials), they’re great officials and they have that extra ‘on the grass’ (experience as players).”

The hosts introduced Jones as a side judge and Killens as an umpire, so we know their positions for this season. The 2019 NFL crews assignments have not been made public and we don’t know if the officials got their assignments at the weekend mini-clinic.

May 15 kicked off the NFL officials’ 2019 season.

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?"