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NFL, CFL Announce Joint Officiating Development Program

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2016

NFL referee Walt Coleman during an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

In an effort to further the seasoning of officials and better prepare them for in-game situations, the NFL and CFL announced a joint venture Friday.

As announced by the NFL, the NFL-CFL Officiating Development Program will begin this season and allow NFL officials to work select CFL preseason and regular-season games.

Also, CFL officials will be permitted to attend NFL minicamps and training camps and take part in some NFL preseason games as part of the program.

According to the press releaseNFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino believes the arrangement will be a big help to NFL officials prior to the 2016 campaign:

Any time our newer officials can get more reps on the field, during practices or games, that will make them better officials. The collaboration with the CFL will certainly benefit us as we prepare for the 2016 season and we look forward to welcoming our CFL officiating counterparts to our development program later this spring.

CFL Senior Vice-President, Football Glen Johnson also touted the importance of the two leagues working together on the project:

This historic partnership gives officials in both leagues an opportunity to hone their craft and get better through shared development activities and more snaps at the pro level. We're excited that a group of our officials will actively participate in the NFL Development Program and now have a formal path forward to be considered as prospects in their league.

While their are notable differences between the NFL and CFL from a rules perspective, much of the game remains the same, which is why the partnership is such a sensible one.

Extra preparation could go a long way for NFL officials, especially since they'll have a chance to partake in games that possess legitimate intensity and actually matter prior to the start of the NFL regular season.

It also opens the door for the NFL to pluck some of the CFL's top officials in the near future, which should strengthen its refereeing ranks as well.

Officiating will always be criticized in any sport, but the NFL's willingness to work with the CFL suggests it is fully committed to getting as much right on the field as it possibly can in 2016 and beyond.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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