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Football officials free to leave the field when the game is over

NFL officials don’t have to stick around to officiate the post-game handshake line.



The end of this week’s Monday Night Football game featured some angry moments as both teams came together to shake hands at the end of a hard-fought game.

While plenty of media reported the incident, you’ll notice the officials were nowhere to be found.

That’s because the officials’ responsibility ends the moment the game is declared over. When time expires, the referee pauses a moment to make sure there were no fouls during the last timed down, and the replay official doesn’t need to review the final play. Once satisfied the game is over, the officials leave the field. They do not have to stick around.

This is common at all levels of football officiating.

No open season on officials after the game

While the officials will not penalize acts between teams after the game, they will report actions against them once the game is over.

Over the years players and coaches have occasionally chased the officials off the field. If players or coaches disrespectfully address the officials or touch the officials, they are subject to a fine or suspension.

Hockey officials aren’t as lucky

Baseball umpires and basketball referees do not have stick around after the game goes final, but hockey officials have to stick around. Pro hockey rules allow the referee to assess post-game penalties. Sometimes hockey officials work the hardest after the final horn.

So, if you witness any angry moments after a football game, it is up to the teams to get the situation under control. The officials are already in the locker room and warming up the showers.

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?"