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Diversity in officiating

March is a big month for NFL officiating hopefuls

March is a big month on the NFL calendar as, traditionally, the NFL hires new officials.



March is a big month on the NFL calendar as, traditionally, the NFL hires new officials.

We already know of four retirements (Byron Boston, Mike Spanier, Jeff Rice and Walt Anderson) and the NFL is incentivizing several veterans to take the gold watch. So the retirement list may grow.

Al Riveron, senior vice president for officiating is determining the finalists for the open positions. This is one of the fun parts of his job – making someone’s officiating dream come true. 

The new hires will go through an exciting and overwhelming orientation process. It starts with the official getting a packet about uniforms, rules, rule exams, points of emphasis and physical requirements. The new officials will attend the mini-clinic in May and learn their crew assignments. 

Then it’s on to the all-staff clinic in July in Dallas and the new hires will be up to their eyeballs in the National Football League.

I want to stress that I have no idea who will be hired,  but we can put two-and-two together and determine that the NFL could hire a second woman this year – LaShell Nelson. She has been an ODP official for a few years. Last year she worked in the AAF and the CFL. Now she’s working in the XFL. The NFL is giving her a close look and giving her several officiating opportunities to gain experience and show the supervisors what she can do.

We will monitor the situation and report on any hires, if and when we get confirmations.

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?"