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 assignment||2021 crew|
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 position||NFL #||NFL assignment||CFL position|
|Middle judge||173||Brian Chrupalo||2017||FJ|
|Middle judge||171||Rob Hand||2017||SJ|
|Middle judge/FJ||172||Jason Maggio||2017, 19||FJ|