Football Ops

Football Ops

Protecting the integrity of the greatest game.

NFL Ops: Honoring the Game

It's our responsibility to strengthen the sport.

League Governance

Ensuring a consistent, fair and safe game that is decided on the field, by the players.

NFL Rules Enforcement

Ensuring that players conduct themselves in a way that honors the sport and respects the game.

Fines & Appeals

The NFL's schedule of infractions and fines, and a process for appeal.

Economic & Social Impact

Honoring the league’s commitment to serve the communities where the game is played.

The NFL Ops Team

Meet the people behind NFL Operations.

The Game

The Game

Learn about the people, the jobs and the technology that deliver the best game possible to NFL fans across the U.S. and around the world. 

Gameday: Behind the Scenes

Countdown to kickoff: how NFL games happen.


In the NFL, balancing technology with tradition.

Impact of Television

How television has changed the game.

History of Instant Replay

Upon further review…

The Players

The Players

Learn how NFL players have changed over time, how they’re developed and how the league works with them after their playing days are over.

Evolution of the NFL Player

Creating an NFL player: from “everyman” to “superman.”

High School Player Development

Developing leadership, character and skill for success on the field and in life.

Development Pipeline

Supporting the next generation of players and fans.

Getting Into the Game

Preparing players of all ages for success at football’s highest level.

Life After the Game

Creating the game plan for life after football.

The Officials

The Officials

Discover the evolution of professional officiating, the weekly evaluation process, and how the the NFL identifies and develops the next generation of officials.

In Focus: History of the Official

“One thing hasn’t changed: the pressure. It will always be there.”

These Officials Are Really Good

Every week, officials take the field ready to put months of preparation, training and hard work on display, knowing that the whole world — and the Officiating Department — is watching.

Officiating Development

Officiating an NFL game takes years of training and experience. 

Behind the Stripes: Timeline

Starting the next week’s work when this week’s final whistle blows.

The Rules

The Rules

NFL Football Operations protects the integrity of the game by ensuring that the rules and the officiating are consistent and fair to all competitors.

In Focus: Evolution of the NFL Rules

The custodians of football not only have protected its integrity, but have also revised its playing rules to make games fairer, safer and more entertaining.

Signals Intelligence

The NFL's familiar hand signals help fans better understand the game.   

2014 NFL Rulebook

Explore the official rules of the game.

Officiating Development

Officiating an NFL game takes years of training and experience. 

Every NFL game has a third team on the field: the officiating crew. For every down and every snap, this seven-person unit makes precision calls and split-second decisions at full speed.

Without the benefit of multiple camera angles on high-definition TV, this crew rules on about 160 plays each and every game. Correctly officiating an NFL game takes years of training and experience. 

Dean Blandino and Al Riveron discuss what goes into building the NFL's "third team."

NFL officials are the best of the best — only 119 officials currently have the privilege of calling football games at the highest level. No one officiates forever, so the NFL’s Officiating Department continuously develops a robust talent pipeline to ensure that the next generation of officials is ready to step up when needed. 

"The process of building the officiating pipeline is something we really focus on. And there's a lot of talent out there."

 David Coleman, NFL director of Officiating

The Officiating Department works closely with local, state and collegiate officiating associations to develop this pipeline of high school and college football officials across the country. The league also hosts grass-roots clinics and programs designed to introduce young men and women to football officiating at every level. 


The NFL has developed a regional network of 92 officiating scouts to canvass the country in search of officials with the potential to advance to higher levels of football.

These efforts have led to a pool of about 2,000 officials — primarily from the high school and collegiate officiating ranks — that have been observed and evaluated by an NFL scout and invited to apply to the NFL’s Officiating Development Program. Once in the program, the regional scouts track their progress, and those who stand out can earn opportunities to move up the officiating ladder.

“If I’m out running errands or picking up my shirts at the cleaner’s, and I see a game, I might just stop and check out those officials.”

 David COleman, NFL director of officiating

All will learn important personal and professional skills that will help them on and off the field. A select few will demonstrate the skills, athleticism and strength of character necessary to officiate in the NFL. 

Though technically officiating is a part-time job, NFL officials dedicate significant time and energy to succeed at football’s highest level, often in addition to their careers running businesses, practicing law, farming or teaching. 

Officiating Development PROGRAMS


High-performing prospects may earn their way into one of these programs, which develop officiating talent at the highest levels:

  • Advanced Development Program (ADP 21)The 21 most experienced and qualified non-NFL officials in the country are invited to join ADP 21. This select group — typically officials for major college conferences — gets a chance to demonstrate their skills and be evaluated and mentored by the NFL’s Officiating Department to see if they are ready to advance to the NFL.
  • Legends Officiating Development Program (LODP): Former players get the opportunity to use their unique knowledge of football and world-class athleticism to stay involved in the game they love. LODP offers former players a possible accelerated path into a football officiating career.


(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

These grass-roots initiatives are designed to expand the public’s interest and skills in officiating at every level:

  • Football Officiating Academy (FOA): FOA broadens the talent pool by introducing officiating to people across the country who are interested in learning more about it. These academies teach officiating mechanics and football fundamentals, along with professional and personal skills that last a lifetime.
  • Women Officiating Now (WON): WON introduces women to the possibility of officiating football and helps them get involved in football at all levels.