NFL officials to work CFL games this season

The CFL and NFL have announced a joint officiating program that will see American officials working regular season games in Canada this season.

CFL officials will be a part of the NFL’s officiating development program, attending NFL training camps and working pre-season games. CFL officials will not NFL regular season games and NFL officials won’t work CFL games once the American season gets rolling in August.

The NFL officials working in the CFL will be primarily deep wing officials – side judges and field judges – to minimize the impact of some of the rules differences between the two leagues.

“This historic partnership gives officials in both leagues an opportunity to hone their craft and get better through shared development activities and more snaps at the pro level,” said the CFL senior vice-president in charge of officiating Glen Johnson.

The CFL has been the subject of intense criticism over its officiating from players, coaches and fans over the past several seasons. Penalties were up nine per cent last year and have increased 22 per cent since 2012.


Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1527 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

18 Comments on NFL officials to work CFL games this season

  1. That’s great – now we will be able to blame the American ref for a bad call. Seriously, the training probably could not hurt.

  2. Mikefrmthhammer // April 22, 2016 at 9:15 am //

    As long as they don’t confuse what league’s rules they are using it should be a good thing. 😉

  3. The officiating in the CFL has been far better than in the NFL. So having NFL refs work CFL games is not good for the CFL. The one silver lining is that the CFL can teach the NFL refs how to officiate well.

  4. Mr 62cats // April 22, 2016 at 11:04 am //

    Sounds like a good plan…for both the NFL and the CFL.

  5. This sounds like a good plan as long as CFL refs don’t some day jump to the NFL for higher pay. OK, probably won’t happen as I think the refs are just part time in both leagues, so no one will be wanting to give up their non football full time job.

  6. Mike Robinson // April 22, 2016 at 12:10 pm //

    Not a good idea, the rules are different and with the difference in on field crew sizes (NFL uses more officials) the on field mechanics will be different and may be difficult for them to get used to along with the fact Canadian officials have to do more running.

  7. Nothing wrong with the idea but I don’t like how there’s an undertone of the CFL being a farm league for NFL officials. The CFL is not, and never should be, a development league for players signed to the NFL who need some more training – so why do officials who are signed to the NFL get to work CFL regular-season games, but CFL officials can’t work NFL regular-season games? Either they both get to work the same games, or neither. It sounds like there’s an extra benefit here to the NFL.

  8. Tom Riddell // April 22, 2016 at 12:47 pm //

    NFL need to Remember 4 Things
    (1)1 yard off the ball
    (2) 3 Downs not 4
    (3)Unlimited motion from WR and Backs
    In any direction as long don’t past the LOS
    (4) 12 Men not 11

    • I guess you didn’t read the entire article:
      1. “The NFL officials working in the CFL will be primarily deep wing officials – side judges and field judges – to minimize the impact of some of the rules differences between the two leagues.”;
      2. I’m sure they learned to count decades ago;
      3. The WRs still have to remain motionless at either end of the LOS prior to the snap (SBs and RBs can waggle); and
      4. See point #2.

  9. How can anything negative be said about this! Anything to help improve our game is more than ok with me! These guys aren’t going to forget what game there officiating! As it is now I’m seriously concerned our guys don’t even know it’s football! I am not an NFL fan but on sure size of the league and the money that they have to train there officials this can only benefit the CFL. This now with an eye in the sky official! I finally see some steps to improve what has been the only sore spot in my eyes for years! The CFL is setting pace, first league to introduce video review now mic’d up refs with an eye in the sky. See it next in the NFL and I really hope soon the NHL!

    • Billinburlington // April 22, 2016 at 8:11 pm //

      I agree with Shon. This is all positive. In fact the third positive story from the league this week: the marketing/promo shoot in TO; the announcement of agreement between CFL, the CFLPA and the CCES on a drug policy, and now this training opportunity for our officials. I am impressed with the new Commissioner’s accomplishments. Does nothing but boost the interest and credibility of the league!

  10. TicatQ93 // April 22, 2016 at 2:57 pm //

    I agree that there were quite a lot of (important) blown calls the past few years in both leagues, but the majority of penalties in my opinion are from players not understanding the rules. Better officiating doesn’t necessarily mean fewer flags if the players keep drawing the same penalties over and over again, so you cannot blame the refs for excessive flags in most cases. But this partnership looks like it will help with the “blown call” aspect of football hopefully.

  11. I think this is a great idea as well. The finer points of the rules may differ, but at the core there is so much similarity I doubt either league’s officials will have a hard time adjusting to the other brand of football.

    Perhaps a bit of good-natured rivalry will play into this too — CFL guys wanting to show the NFLers what they can do, and vice versa.

    More reps and more varied experiences are good things for players. I’d think that holds true for officials as well.

  12. We’ll see how this goes. When two business entities that are so drastically different in size, like the CFL and NFL, enter into an agreement the junior partner almost always comes out on the short end.

    • That’s a fair concern to keep in mind. But one previous agreement between the two leagues provided the CFL with funds that kept it operating and likely saved its neck; while that didn’t come for nothing, I’d argue Canadian pro football came out ahead.

      • The CFL/NFL relationship is very much symbiotic rather than adversarial. With the folding of NFL Europe (NFL lost millions) the CFL has become a bit more of a feeder league for the NFL, but in truth most CFLers don’t make it or don’t last in the NFL.

        The main reason the NFL wants the CFL to survive is due to very tough anti-trust laws in the USA. So as long as the CFL is separate business entity from the NFL and is an alternate place for a football player to find employment then the NFL is not a monopoly and then the main concerns of the US anti trust laws have been met.

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