With the first week of the 2020 NFL season just around the corner, NFL officiating crews will be taking the field across the country as part of the return of some normalcy to the sports world and the American way of life. However, those crews may not stay together on a week-to-week basis, or even known outside of Art McNally Gameday Central (AMGC) until shortly before each game. With many different protocols in place to limit the impact of the pandemic on the league, the 17 referees may not be working with their regular six crew-members for the entirety of the season.
The NFL officiating crews for this upcoming season were released in early June, but just two months later, the league announced that the crews would be re-assigned on a geographic basis to limit the need for air travel to game sites. Those new crews have still not been announced and may not be known until shortly before the season kicks off.
In addition to the potential, and seemingly likely, switching up of the already modified crews, there is also a chance that some officials may work multiple games in a week if necessary, in the event that an assigned official has to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19. This has happened sparingly over the years to fill in for officials due to last-minute injury or illness, but it may become more commonplace in 2020 to see an official work a Thursday night game and a Sunday afternoon game in the same week.
Also, officiating crews that have off weeks may be used as swing pools in the event of an assigned official not being able to fulfill his duties. At worst case, the league has prepared to field crews of less than 7, with possibly as low as 5 officials working a game if a plan B needs to be devised in a pinch.