New Orleans Saints’ Sean Payton expects full-time NFL refs are coming
Too many ref errors could force the league to make some permanent changes
If anyone knows about NFL referees not properly doing their jobs, it’s Sean Payton. The head coach for the New Orleans Saints had to watch as a trip to the Super Bowl was ripped from its fingers last season and has already seen several referee fumbles this year. He believes the issue stems from there not being enough control over the contracted refs and envisions a day when all officiators are full-time employees of the league.
Speaking on Sirius XM’s NFL Radio channel recently, Payton stated, “I think, ultimately, we’re going be at some point dealing with full time officials. I don’t know that half of our fans even realize most of these guys aren’t even full time. I think the game is sped up so much now and we got better angles of it all. Shoot, the video angles of each play…the fans are more educated, so I think we’re headed in that direction.”
In this latest NFL season, there isn’t a single full-time NFL ref. There used to be a league rule, implemented in 2017, that required the officiating crew to be comprised of 20% full-time employees, but the NFL dropped that requirement ahead of the current season as the league and refs discussed a new collective bargaining agreement.
Al Riveron, the senior VP of officiating for the NFL, told NFL Network a few months ago, “Unfortunately right now for this year that program will not be used. However, like I said, we use our officials during the year, we take them out to the clubs, we take them out to meetings still, that program in a way will continue, not just by the name that we call it now.”
The NFL recently announced a new position, the senior VP of referee training. However, the position, according to its description, reads more like a guidance counselor than anything else. The individual to be assigned to the role will meet with refs to ask them what they feel they need help with, not to tell them what they are doing wrong.