Dunlap: NFL Officiating Is Such A Mess

Thursdays, Sundays and Monday nights are being ruined by the boys in black and white

Colin Dunlap
October 15, 2019 - 2:16 pm

© Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports


PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - Millions of people are mad. 

Downright angry and annoyed. They are bothered and frustrated; peeved and perturbed. 

Yeah, man. Their Sundays are getting ruined. And their Thursday nights. And their Monday nights. 

The NFL has just plain effed this up. 

It seems that we are talking --- and have been talking --- far too much about officiating lately. 

Officials are supposed to be, for the most part, invisible. But their actions have been thrust to the forefront of too many football games. 

Should a play have been reviewed?

Was that a bad call or not? 

Is Al Riveron just a man who blindly sides with his brethren wearing zebra stripes? 

Will people stop watching? 

Have people stopped watching?
Are the games too long already? 
Should there be more reviewable plays? Fewer? All of them? None at all? 

What we have is a mess and it bubbled over again on Monday night when the Detroit Lions were given the old Wisconsin screw job in a loss against the Green Bay Packers.  

You know by now how it all happened --- some imaginary hands-to-the-face calls and a bogus unnecessary roughness call for good measure and this ended up being nothing short of a sham. 

But how does it get fixed? I say make the officials younger. And make them full-time. 

Will that do anything to completely correct all of this? I don’t know about that, but to me it’s heading down the right path. The first step in the right direction. 

I’m told the average age for NFL officials is about 52. That isn’t old but it isn’t necessarily young, either. You know what I never see in the NFL? An official who is about the same age as the participants in the sport. If you watch sports on television ---- as I do, a lot ---- you will quickly notice there are some NHL officials and especially some MLB umpires who are in the same age group of the men playing the game. The average NBA ref is about 46. 

The officials in other sports seem to keep up, they seem to have a keen eye, they seem to never let the play be faster than them --- or, at the very least, it doesn’t happen as often as in the NFL. 

Why we are asking guys in their 50s (on average) to keep up with an NFL that has gotten decidedly bigger, stronger and especially faster, I will never know. It is a ludicrous proposition. 

Where are the younger NFL officials? Because I sure as heck never see them. 

Perhaps younger people need to be incentivized more for trying to get on a track to officiate NFL games. One big step would be making such positions full-time. 

That way, men and women won’t have to waste away for a decade or so doing college games, but they might be able to work college games and also fall under the umbrella of the NFL and be paid by the league as they both work a college schedule and get year-round training in anticipation of becoming an NFL official. 

Yes, you hand-pick the very best young college officials and start to groom them, year-round, to be NFL officials. And while doing that they can simultaneously work college games.

I’m not seeing the problem. 

Instead I’m seeing the same old dinosaurs out there on Sunday. And Thursday night. And on Monday Night Football. 

Everyone in the sports landscape is talking about how bad the NFL is being officiated right now. The talk is bad, really bad. It isn’t good PR. 

I don’t know if it’s a solution that will fix everything, but it’s worth a shot: The owners and powers that be in the NFL need to make the officials younger and they need to make the positions full-time. 

It won’t fix everything. But I’m convinced it would be a heavy step in the right direction. ​

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