GLENDALE, Arizona -– The NFL’s worst nightmare is for a Super Bowl to be decided by a terrible officiating call.
Despite the cascade of criticism directed at referees this season, Mike Pereira does not agree the league should make all of its game officials full-time employees.
Pereira is the most famous NFL zebra of all time. The former vice president of NFL officiating pioneered the role of on-air “rules analyst” after joining Fox in 2010. When he talks, the NFL world listens.
During an interview with Front Office Sports, Pereira admitted there were some “egregiously” bad calls this past season.
But he thinks the NFL should keep referees part-time, unlike MLB umpires or NBA refs.
“I’d say yes, it’s time if you can give me 60 games to work over the course of the year,” Pereira said. “I don’t believe that it’s time when you’re not going to get reps. To sit at home and do nothing else in the off-season except read a rulebook, answer test questions, or watch video? I don’t think that’s worth it.”
While many of the controversies this season have raged around “roughing the passer” penalties, officials threw more roughing flags protecting quarterbacks during 2021 than in the 2022 season, noted Pereira.
Still, the NFL knows it has a problem on its hands, ESPN’s Adam Schefter told Pat McAfee after the AFC and NFC Championship Games.
“There is an issue with the officiating,” Schefter said on McAfee’s show. “And when you speak to people around the league, they believed it’s as bad as it’s been in a long time, maybe ever. If we go back to the one game that I think of is the Seahawks-Rams game, final regular season game, where the officials missed multiple calls that potentially influenced the outcome of that game.”
McAfee, a former NFL punter, also warned the league has a “massive officiating issue.” NFL officials working part-time could be part of the reason, he said.
“Full-time refs, optically, would just look much better to everybody. Because you have part-time refs, and they’re not full-time refs, there’s a chance they could be maybe swayed by somebody outside the NFL,” McAfee said.