As we approach the conclusion of a one-of-a-kind regular season, we still may not have seen the craziest measures on the officiating front yet. The NFL has a contingency plan in place to promote an official to the referee position for the Week 17 slate of games in the event of a referee shortage due to covid-19 protocols, according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. It is unclear if the promotion will be for Week 17 of this season only, or if the promotion will extend into the 2021 season and beyond.
In the past two weeks alone, we’ve seen late changes at the referee position which have prompted Thursday night referees to double dip and work two games in a single week. John Hussey worked on Thursday night and Monday night in Week 15, and Adrian Hill worked on Christmas evening and Sunday evening this past week. Since all Week 17 games will be on Sunday, there is no opportunity for double dipping.
We speculated earlier in the month that this may pose a problem for crew scheduling.
The NFL has not promoted an official to the referee position mid-season since 2004, when back judge Scott Green was promoted to replace referee Johnny Grier, who was sidelined due to a leg injury.
If necessary, the crew with the deputy promotion will work 6-man mechanics, similar to when the crew shuffles in the event of an injury.