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The NFL will hire up to 24 full-time game officials from among the current 124-person roster of officials, the NFL and NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) jointly announced.
The NFL and NFLRA agreed to experiment with full-time officials as part of their most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement. The decision to hire up to 24 officials for 2017 is intended to promote the common goal of enhancing all aspects of NFL officiating — scouting, training and mentoring, better understanding of current game trends, game preparation, and increased input on rules relating to player safety and game administration.
“We believe this is a great development for NFL officiating overall and ultimately the quality of our game,” said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent. “We share a common goal, which is to make our game as great as it can possibly be, and look forward to working together on this new effort.”
“NFL officials are always looking to improve, and we believe that additional time, particularly in the offseason, will be positive,” said NFLRA Executive Director Scott Green. “We're looking forward to working together with the league on this effort.”
Current officials who wish to transition to a full-time role may apply under the program. Officials who are hired — between 21 and 24 of them — will play an important role in enhancing communication and the flow of information to and from on-field officials, NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Alberto Riveron and the league's officiating supervisors.
Implementing full-time officials for the 2017 season will provide the NFL Officiating Department, in consultation with the NFLRA, the opportunity to identify the most effective ways to use off-field time for full-time game officials throughout the calendar year.
During the season, full-time officials will be hired at each of the seven officiating positions and may serve on each of the 17 officiating crews. During the offseason, they will work with their crews, league officiating staff and the NFL’s football-related committees.