NFL helping USFL launch in April with officiating crews

The revitalized USFL, which begins play in April, will be using 32 game officials who are in the NFL Development Pipeline.

Those crews all have college officiating experience and are part of the more-established league’s program that provides opportunities for college-level officials who are ready to advance to professional football.

In all, the USFL will use five crews of seven officials — a referee, umpire, down judge, line judge, field judge, side judge, back judge — with two crews working two games on any given weekend. Of the 35 total officials in the league, which kicks off on April 16 with all games in Birmingham, Alabama, 33 have worked in the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-12, and SEC). The all-inclusive USFL officials’ roster includes four women and 16 people of color.

“The USFL will have the best officials not currently in the NFL,” said Mike Pereira, USFL officiating head and previously a director of officials in the NFL. “Our association with the NFL officiating department clearly serves the USFL by supplying officials who are ready to call games at the highest level, and it also benefits the NFL by providing professional game experience for those who are just a step away from working Sundays in the fall. In fact, I expect several officials calling USFL games this spring to officiate in the NFL later this year.”

NFL ODP participants study position-specific film with veteran NFL officials and current officiating instructors, review NFL mechanics, and analyze the differences in rules between NFL and NCAA. In addition, ODP officials attend the NFL’s annual preseason officiating clinic; participate in NFL minicamps and training camps; officiate an NFL preseason game; and work an NCAA postseason all-star game such as the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Bowl, HBCU Legacy Bowl, or NFLPA game.

“We are excited about the opportunity the USFL provides potential NFL officials in our development pipeline,” said NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Walt Anderson. “Similar to what we had in NFL Europe for many years, our association with the USFL allows us to observe college officials in an environment that uses NFL-related rules and mechanics. This process is invaluable as we improve the development and promotion of professional football officiating.”

Anderson and his staff of NFL officiating instructors will hold a clinic from April 6-8 in Birmingham for 2022 USFL officials.

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