This weekend will be an emotional one for some officials who will be calling their final game.
We just don’t know yet who will retire.
The NFL hires most officials between the ages of 40 and 45. So, simple math indicates any official who has put in 20 years has the retirement window open. Some officials suffer chronic pain or get injured before age 60 and have to retire. Other officials are in their late 60s and look like they could stay on the field for another 10 years.
The NFL does not have a mandatory retirement age and the officials can thank Ben Dreith for that.
In the past few years, TV broadcasts sometimes mention that an official is retiring. That happens if the officiating crew tells the TV producer that tidbit of news during the pregame meeting. It has turned into a nice little moment during the broadcasts.
But, not all retirements are known now — by either the NFL or the officials.
An official might be assigned a Super Bowl or Conference Championship game. The official looks in the mirror, looks at the calendar, rubs that sore knee and decides right then to go out at or near the top.
Other times the retirement comes after the official works their final game. The NFL, wanting to bring in younger officials might offer a severance package to an official, who will take it. It is a dignified retirement, but the NFL gave the official a little (or big) nudge. I call it a “voluntold” retirement. This also has given rise to somewhat of a holdout situation, where officials might be considering retirement, but are waiting instead for a severance offer to come in the offseason.
The NFL never comments why an official retires from the NFL, so it is rare for us to know inside details.
Watch our Week 17 liveblog and we will note any retirement announcements during the games. And we will continue to report on any retirement announcements in the coming weeks.