The NFL’s Mackie Development Program (MDP), named for longtime NFL game official and executive Wayne Mackie, provides an opportunity for college-level officials not yet working in the NFL to be exposed to some of the same experiences as NFL officials. Drawn from the nearly 4,000 candidates in the league’s scouting database, these officials, with an emphasis on diverse candidates, are evaluated by the league to answer one question: Do they have the potential to succeed in the NFL?
Before joining the program, officials must receive medical clearance, pass a background check, take a psychological assessment and complete an in-person interview with a panel of NFL Officiating Department staff.
Once accepted into the program, they study position-specific film with veteran NFL officials and current officiating coaches and trainers, as well as, review NFL mechanics and analyze the differences in rules between NFL and NCAA. MDP officials gain NFL experiences by:
- Attending the NFL’s annual preseason officiating clinic to begin learning the differences between college and professional officiating.
- Participating in NFL mini-camps and training camps.
- Officiating in an NFL preseason game.
- Working an NCAA post-season all-star game (Reese’s Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Bowl or NFLPA Game)
At the end of the season, the officials in the MDP will be assessed as follows:
- Ready for the highest level: This official will be moving up to an NFL officiating crew when an opening exists.
- Great work, but room to improve: The league likes what it sees in the official, but determines that he or she is not ready for the NFL just yet, but will remain in the program.
- Not the right fit: The league does not see this official working in the NFL, and he or she continues his or her collegiate career.