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NFL–CFL officiating exchange not happening in 2021

There will be no NFL-CFL Officiating Development Program for 2021.



In a move most likely attributed to the closed border between the United States and Canada, the NFL–CFL officiating exchange will not happen in 2021.

Instituted in 2016, the NFL–CFL Officiating Development Program gives NFL and CFL officials more experience. Over the years, several NFL officials worked CFL games in late summer, typically at a deep position to minimize the difference in rules sets. In exchange, CFL officials would come south, observe NFL officials, receive NFL training, and work an NFL preseason game. In 2017, CFL officials also helped the NFL experiment with a “middle judge” position.

CFL official Dave Hawkshaw was part of the officiating exchange program and became a NFL official. Over the years, CFL officials Tim Kroeker, Dave Foxcroft, Rob Hand, Jason Maggio, Brian Chrupalo and Justin McInnes observed NFL crews and worked NFL preseason games.

But, Football Zebras has confirmed that the program will not happen in 2021. The border between Canada and the United States is largely closed due to covid-19 concerns, and the development program does not qualify under existing waiver criteria. While the NFL did not confirm why the program isn’t happening, the closed border is most likely a leading culprit. Even if the border opens tomorrow, it is too late to work the logistics of the officiating exchange.

Compared to basketball, baseball and hockey, football has very few games for officials to work, get grass time and get experience. The development program presents a golden opportunity for both CFL and NFL officials to get those precious snaps.

There is no word if the NFL and the CFL will re-start the NFL–CFL Officiating Development Program in 2022.

NFL officials who worked CFL games

Yrs (2021)CFL assignment2021 crew
U 76 Alan Eck 6 2016 Clark
FJ 26 Jabir Walker 7 2016 Kemp
SJ 118 David Meslow 11 2016 Vinovich
SJ 104 Dale Shaw 9 2016 Boger
R 55 Alex Kemp 8 2017  
R 126 Brad Rogers 5 2017  
FJ 117 John Jenkins 8 2017 Novak
SJ 5 Jim Quirk 12 2017 Hill
R 130 Land Clark 4 2018  
FJ 25 Ryan Dickson 5 2018 Corrente
FJ 31 Mearl Robinson 5 2018 Clark
SJ 58 Don Willard 4 2018 Vinovich
FJ 42 Nate Jones 3 2019 Rogers
SJ 7 Keith Washington 14 2019 Hill
BJ 82 Jimmy Russell 3 2019 Allen

Additionally, LaShell Nelson, a participant in the NFL’s Officiating Development Program and pictured above, participated in the CFL program in 2019. She has not yet been hired by the NFL.

CFL officials who worked NFL games

NFL positionNFL #NFL assignmentCFL position
SJ 167 Dave Foxcroft 2016-17 R
FJ 170 Dave Hawkshaw 2016-18 SJ
LJ 168 Justin McInnes 2016-17 HL
Middle judge 173 Brian Chrupalo 2017 FJ
Middle judge 171 Rob Hand 2017 SJ
Middle judge/FJ 172 Jason Maggio 2017, 19 FJ
SJ 176 Tom Vallesi 2018 R
FJ 175 Ritchie Miller 2018 U
SJ 177 Rob Skaggs 2018 BJ
FJ 179 Blair Brown 2019 SJ
U 180 Tim Kroeker 2019 R

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?"