The decreasing level of refereeing in the NFL, despite the visual aids, it something that calls for immediate action. It seems that the first step taken by the league in order to fight the “epidemic” is changing the way they evaluate the officials. No more ranking them based on a numerical system, but instead keeping them in tiers that will determine if they can be part of a playoff crew or not.
According to Dean Blandin, the new man charged with overseeing NFL game officials, the new system which involved separating officials into three different tiers, with the those included in the top one eligible for playoff games, allows his crew (which includes eight overseers and evaluates) to have more input in weighing intangibles which might not be so easily measured by simply placing numbers on everything.
We’ve tried to get the word ‘grading’ out of our vocabulary. We felt that officials historically — not just in the NFL, but in any evaluation or grading system — sometimes tend to get so caught up in the grades, they lose sight of what we want them to say: ‘This is an incorrect call, and here’s what you can do better,’ rather than, ‘I got a downgrade. Now I’m just worried about fighting that downgrade. We want to concentrate on teaching and training.
We just feel there are some things that go into officiating that aren’t necessarily reflected in the numerical number, or your percentage for accuracy. There are some things that I, as a supervisor, need to have the ability to look at for the overall picture of what makes a good official. We’re still looking at adding an eight one. The head linesman and side judge are 25 yards apart. Maybe another official would go in the middle and takes the five-yard belt area, which would allow the official on the line of scrimmage to focus on the tackle.
Last Super Bowl anonymous voices were made about the selection of Jerome Boger, who was ranked as the number one referee in the NFL last season. Hopefully, a better and fairer system will make it a bit less of a problem or a controversy when the officiating crews for the playoff games and especially the Super Bowl are selected.