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Updated: One more official retires as the officiating season starts

Two veteran officials retire at the last minute bring the total retirement to 11 zebras.



Editors Note: We originally reported two officials had left the field. It is very unusual to have conflicting information at this late stage. According to a source deemed more reliable than others, we have corrected our story to report that one official has left the field. 

Football Zebras relied on erroneous information that should have been caught in our editorial process. For the record, Jim Quirk continues to be an official on the field for the 2022 season.


One NFL official has left the field bringing the 2021 retirement list to 10 total on-field officials. Umpire Dan Ferrell has left the field. Also, replay assistant Willie Vizoso has left the replay booth.

We don’t know the reason for the officials leaving the league, but in the past few seasons, the NFL has offered a retirement buyout to officials who meet minimum requirements. In some cases, the official has earned another season on the field, but the NFL wants this official to retire in order to bring in new officials. This is viewed as a dignified retirement, but with a gentle (or firm) push from the NFL front office. Based on the timing of the departures, it is possible these officials may have considered retirement, but held out to see if the NFL would pay them to retire. A source with knowledge of the 2022 roster indicated could not characterize the circumstances of the departure or if there was an injury or a performance reason.

Counting Ferrell, there have been a total of three off-season retirements beyond the seven on-field officials announced at the end of the 2021 season.

Dan Ferrell

Dan Ferrell retires after 19 seasons. He worked umpire his entire career and wore number 64.

During his career, Ferrell worked a total of 11 playoff games — two wild card games, six divisional contests, two conference championship games and Super Bowl LI. That game featured outstanding officiating and is the only overtime Super Bowl game. Ferrell was also a playoff alternate six times.

After his Super Bowl assignment, Ferrell worked one more playoff game on the field: a 2020 Wild Card Playoff game.

More clarity at umpire … we think

This spring, the NFL hired four new umpires. Tra Blake moved from umpire to referee, and Hall and Ferrell retired. That leaves one extra umpire. Look for a veteran NFL umpire to be a swing official this upcoming season.

Congratulations to Dan Ferrell for attaining an officiating goal the rest of us can only dream about. We wish him and Vizoso the best in the next chapter of their lives.

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?"