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No eighth official in 2020

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According to a report from John Kryk in The Telegram, the NFL will not add an eighth official for the 2020 season.

The proposal is for the eighth official to be the sky judge (the position name bandied about at the moment).

The idea is for the sky judge to intervene and correct “egregious” judgement errors or rule misapplications. It is unknown if the sky judge would be an official that retired from the field, someone with officiating experience at the college level, or someone that comes up through the replay official pipeline.

But, the NFL won’t consider the sky judge position this year, simply because the 2020 off-season will be too short and the start of the season will be too hurried to properly implement an eighth official mechanics and procedures, let alone to hire 17 new officials.

When the sky judge position is considered, many people think that might be a different way to review controversial pass interference calls. While the experimental, two-year pass interference rule is still on the books, the owners have to vote to make it permanent and the future of the pass interference rule is in doubt.

Look for the NFL to give serious consideration to the sky judge position next year. Thanks to COVID-19, this year is too up-in-the-air to create a new officiating position.

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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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One thought on “No eighth official in 2020

  1. This decision strikes me as odd. Each crew already has a replay official, so Al Riveron or Walt Anderson wouldn’t need to hire anyone, right? And re-establishing how this “sky judge” (Mike Pereira’s term, I think) would operate wouldn’t take much effort: simply adopt the XFL’s excellently transparent system. Or at the very least, use it as the foundation and tweak from there, if they need to. That would take the red flag out of the coaches’ hands, which I’m pretty sure the coaches would welcome.

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