Happy New Year to all NFL officiating fans. No, it isn’t a new calendar year or league year. Traditionally, May 15 marks the first day of the NFL officials being in-season following the 3-month “dark period”, which begins after the Super Bowl. The “dark period” allows the officials to dedicate more time to their full-time occupations. It is not just a courtesy; the “dark period” is required through a mandate in the NFL-NFLRA collective bargaining agreement.
Following the Divisional Playoff games, contact between the NFL and the officials generally ceases, except for the small number of officials assigned to the Conference Championships and the Super Bowl. The Monday following the Super Bowl is the first day of the no-contact “dark period” for all game officials.
The traditional symbol of the start of the officiating season, analogous to the Times Square ball drop, is the officials’ receipt of “Memo #1”, which is the first correspondence they will receive from senior vice presidents Walt Anderson and Perry Fewell. Since May 15 falls on a weekend this year, “Memo #1” will likely appear in each official’s inbox promptly on Monday morning. In this correspondence, the roster of officials will be formally welcomed back for another season, and an open-book rules test will be assigned. New rules are usually briefed in “Memo #1”, however, only two rules changes were passed: one was an existing rule change made permanent, and the other will only affect postseason games. In the rules test, scenarios based on the new rules will make an appearance.
The league’s 10 new officials will be recognized, as well as the 9 that have hung up their stripes. Line judge Jeff Bergman will be entering his 30th NFL season, which will surely be addressed with congratulations. Bergman joins a short list of 7 other officials who worked 30 or more seasons, a list which includes his father Jerry, who also officiated 30 NFL seasons, from 1966 to 1995.
New on-field officials
Officials are shown with the college conference they most recently worked in, their years in the ODP, assignments to a 2021-22 bowl game or conference championship, and spring pro league experience.
*-January college invitational game assignment only, †-development program for former players, §-cancelled bowl game, 🅰️2019 AAF, ❎2020 XFL, ☆currently in USFL
|2021-22 bowl game and spring league experience
|Big 12 Championship Game🅰️❎☆
|Fiesta Bowl🅰️❎ ☆
|National Championship Game☆
|2014†, 2015-17, 2018†, 2020-21
|ACC Championship Game🅰️❎☆
|NFLPA Collegiate Bowl*
|National Championship Game
|Lo Van Pham
|Mountain West Championship Game, Holiday Bowl§🅰️❎☆
Leaving the field
|former college officiating coordinator, retired educator
|retired logistics and supply chain executive
|physical education teacher
|general manager, agricultural operations
Updated 6/7: Added the late-reported retirements of Ferrell and Quirk.
Promoted to referee
|software quality assurance manager
Timeline of major offseason events
At the end of May, the officials will gather at the New York Giants training facility for the offseason’s first mini-clinic. At this mini-clinic, physicals will take place, as well as functional movement exams to test balance, endurance, and agility of the officials before they suit up for another season.
This mini-clinic will be followed by visits to clubs’ organized team activities (OTAs), which are scheduled by the clubs, but generally take place in late May and early June.
In mid-July, the entire officiating staff will meet in Dallas for the annual clinic. What can be considered as the officials’ 3-day training camp, the clinic covers film study and discussion over the first two days, including position-specific meetings with an officiating supervisor or position coach. The sessions during the third day are allotted for additional conditioning drills and fitness evaluations in conjunction with the earlier mini-clinics.
And before we know it, August will arrive with the first game of the NFL’s 103rd season: the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, which will take place just two days before the enshrinement of the Hall’s first game official.
It is poised to be a great season for NFL officiating.