Get ready for some full-time NFL officials to start throwing yellow flags next year. Troy Vincent, the league's vice president of football operations, tells the AP that he expects the NFL to hire as many as 17 full-time officials this offseason. The additions are allowed under the collective bargaining agreement and would increase the size of officiating crews from seven to eight, Vincent says. He says the league is already receiving input from coaches, general managers and owners. And he says hiring full-time officials and discussions to expand replay reviews top the agenda of the NFL's competition committee, which is scheduled to meet in February following the Super Bowl.
Currently, NFL officiating crews are part-time staff and hold jobs outside of football. Vincent says full-time officials would allow the NFL to spend more time on training and consultation on a year-round basis. What has yet to be decided is where the additional official would line up on the field. One proposal is introducing a middle sideline judge to monitor interior defensive line penalties. Another is to oversee hits to the quarterback. Citing NFL statistics, Vincent notes the league's current officials have an accuracy rate of more than 97%. It's only during those few occasions where a gaffe is magnified, he says, that they get so much attention.