In an unprecedented situation, three NFL officiating crews worked all or part of three games with six-person crews. To the best of our memories, we cannot recall two crews working an official down on one day, let alone three.
Hochuli crew starts with six
Down judge Ed Camp did not start Giants-Bears game. Apparently it was a late-breaking situation because the NFL tries to make sure all games have crews of seven. (We do not recall a time when a game started one official down.)
During the game, line judge Greg Bradley worked down judge. Side judge Chad Hill came up and worked line judge. Tom Hill (pictured above) and Rich Martinez held down the secondary.
We don’t know the official reason Camp missed this game.
Corrente missed part of the game
In the Lions-Seahawks game, referee Tony Corrente suddenly fell down between plays. Many on social media were scared that Corrente had a medical emergency. We have been told that he was bumped in between plays.
While medical personnel attended to the veteran referee, back judge Todd Prukop worked as a referee on the six-person crew. Prukop wore his black hat and didn’t wear a microphone.
Many breathed a sigh of relief to see Corrente return to the field some minutes later to complete the game.
The last time an official at the referee position had to leave the game was Johnny Grier on Oct. 31, 2004. After two plays, field judge Scott Green took over; he lead the crew through the rest of the season and Grier never returned to the field. Green, the current executive director of the officiating union, was promoted to referee the next season.
Fred Bryan leaves the nightcap
The Vikings-Packers game had just begun, when umpire Fred Bryan called time, and went to the locker room for some type of evaluation.
He did not return and we don’t know why Bryan left the game.
After Bryan left, Martin’s crew worked with no umpire. That left the referee solely responsible to judge holding and other action along the offensive and defensive lines.
Later in the game, when the outcome was decided, side judge Don Willard came in and worked the umpire position. Willard, who is on a short list to become a referee, got the chance to work in the offensive backfield opposite Martin; however, on scrimmage kicks Willard went to side judge, as a kicked ball can cause funky rulings.
No regular season alternates
While some major college conferences provide an alternate official during the regular season, the NFL does not provide alternate officials during the regular season — only the playoffs.
Even with several unscheduled substitutions this week, the NFL was able to assign seven-person crews to games.
But even with fully-staffed crews, three were not able to complete the game and three crews had to go with six. Here is hoping for a safe and healthy Week 18.