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New umpire mechanic on field goals and extra points is the old mechanic

The umpire returns to the traditional position on field goals and extra points to help protect the snapper.



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The NFL is returning the umpire to the defensive side of the ball on all field goals and extra points this season. For the past five years, the umpire was positioned in the offensive backfield on kick-scoring plays, as shown in the photo from the Super Bowl above. The rationale was that the umpire had a different angle on illegal line blocking with the side judge observing from the opposite side of the line.

It also provided a second official to help administrate the play and line everyone up.

But this year the umpire will join the side judge in the defensive backfield on kick-scoring plays, as it was prior to 2018. The reasoning for the latest move is to cover the snapper, and by moving to the defensive side of the ball, it gives the umpire a better understanding and angle on potential action against the snapper. Other keys on blocking, leverage, and leaping are still with the umpire. The side judge will continue to be a “second umpire” on these plays.

Since this is a new-old mechanic, expect the NFL umpires to adapt to the new-old positioning quickly.

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?"