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5 officiating observations from the 2022 Hall of Fame Game

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Reporting from Canton, Ohio

I haven’t watched a NFL game in person for a long time. Last night I was able to watch the 2022 Hall of Fame Game live while sitting in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

While you may not have been riveted to your seat, Cam and I took in the game and had mechanics comments after just about every play! Here are some observations as we watched Carl Cheffers crew work.

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1. Officials honor Wayne Mackie

The officials were wearing a “WM” patch on their hats this game, to honor the late Wayne Mackie who passed away in March.

The officiating development program was recently re-named in his honor.

2. No extraneous movements by the crew

The officials moved with purpose when they had to. But, many times the deep judges (Tom Hill, Boris Cheek and Perry Paganelli), didn’t move a single step on a play that was a run or pass for little to moderate gain. And when all officials did move, it was under control, what the late Jerry Seeman used to call “cruise control.” The officials also moved smoothly before, during and after a play.

When the play was over, each off-ball official would “accordion in” or walk about five yards forward to observe the post-play action and help relay the ball.

There was no furious sprinting in sell a spot, or over-hyping a call or signal. Each official had a job to do each play and seven officials worked together as a unit.

3. Lots signals between officials between downs

Officials always signal if they have (or don’t have) 11 men on the field. But those watching on TV rarely see other signals, such as noting substitutions and clock status. While not as animated as a baseball coach signaling base runners, TV viewers miss lots of signals between officials.

4. Awesome ball rotations

For high school officials like yours truly, when we want a new ball from the sideline, sometimes we get engaged ball persons, sometimes … not so much.

Last night, before the covering official had finished sounding his whistle, a new ball was getting ready to go in, and each official knew their job. One would get the ball from the ball person, triangulate it to usually referee Carl Cheffers, who would toss it to umpire Carl Paganelli who would spot it. Sometimes, depending on the side of the field, Cheffers and Paganelli would swap roles.

No chucking the ball in from the sideline for Paganelli or Cheffers to shag. Getting a new ball in efficiently helps keep the game moving, and NFL officials are experts at this. The officials had a new ball spotted usually around 10-seconds. Sometimes on Friday nights, it takes officials 10-seconds to find the ball person.

5. The best of the best

The biggest take-away from last night’s game, was how good NFL officials truly are at their job. Every move on the field, every signal, every communication is with precision timing. Their mechanics keep the game moving and fun for the viewer – both in person and on TV. For amateur officials it is quite fun to watch the pros at work.

Happy start of the 2022 season! We’re here all year reporting on NFL officiating news and commenting every week about the officials and the calls they make.

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Mark Schultz
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?"

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