NFL Reportedly Declines to Make Referees Full-Time Employees for 2020 Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2020

Referee Brad Allen, left, and umpire Barry Anderson (20) talk on the field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The NFL won't grant full-time status to referees for the 2020 season, according to ESPN's Kevin Seifert.

Seifert reported the NFL signaled in May it would make 10 referees full-time employees for the upcoming year, but the league then walked back the decision.

One belief is that the quality of officiating would improve if some referees had the ability to make it a full-time career. A number of referees have second jobs that demand their attention, especially during the offseason.

Justified or not, fans will always find something to complain about regarding officiating.

Even taking that into account, the 2019 season was particularly bad on that front. The most notable example was how referees declined to overturn the vast majority of pass interference calls even when a replay review appeared to show the call on the field was incorrect.

"It's pretty simple," ESPN officiating analyst John Parry told Seifert in January. "The league needs to commit resources and money to this. It needs to commit to the resurrection of the officiating department, the staff, the training and the recruiting. There has to be a commitment of people and money to improve it at every level."

Seifert reported in May that Al Riveron, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating, would no longer have the oversight role he held in 2019. 

Instead, Walt Anderson "has assumed control over the tasks normally charged to the NFL's officiating chief." Former assistant coach Perry Fewell was also brought board as the senior vice president of officiating administration.