Ravens Propose 8th 'Sky Judge' Official to Assist on-Field Referees

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2021

Field judge Joe Blubaugh and line judge Tom Stephan (68) during the second half of an NFL football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)
Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

The Baltimore Ravens have reportedly proposed the addition of an eighth official called a "sky judge" to aid on-field officials during games.

Albert Breer of The MMQB tweeted a summary of what he was told the sky judge's duties would be:

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Sources: The Ravens have submitted a proposal for a booth umpire (an eighth official, "SkyJudge") to the NFL, and presented it to the competition committee yesterday, with the backing of the coaches subcommittee. Here's the language. Pretty common sense, in my opinion. https://t.co/lBDgGJKWTJ

The booth umpire would have access to all broadcast angles and replays, and they would have an open line to on-field officials, allowing them to correct any obvious on-field errors in real time, provided it doesn't significantly disrupt the flow of the game.

In May 2020, Breer wrote about the NFL possibly voting in favor of a sky judge trial run for the 2020 preseason with an option to then use a sky judge during regular-season games.

That never came to pass, however, as the 2020 preseason was canceled by the NFL because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Per Breer, the Ravens presented the sky judge proposal to the competition committee Thursday and had the support of the coaches subcommittee.

It is unclear if or when the sky judge will be approved for use, but it stands to reason that it could be tested during the 2021 preseason, leaving the door open for it to be implemented on a full-time basis during the 2021 regular season.

Given the chaos that often occurs on the field in an NFL game, it isn't out of the ordinary for the on-field officials to miss something. In such instances, having an official with access to replay could be a huge help.

It would also potentially cut down on challenges since the sky judge could make corrections on the fly, negating the need for on-field officials to review plays and eat up additional time.