Here’s a new idea.

On the NFL Network  the other night, Marshall Faulk was bemoaning the umpire’s new position behind the offensive backfield (rather than just behind the linebackers, where the umpire used to stand).  Some, most notably the Colts, are complaining that it takes the umpire too long to set the ball and then to get into position during their hurry-up offense.  (I’ve noticed that the umpire has been in the old position during 2-minute drill situations…am I getting that wrong?)  But the NFL is concerned about collisions with umpires…there were at least a hundred of them last year, with three concussions to umpires (if I remember their conversation right).

But his solution was intriguing to me.

He suggested that the NFL put the umpire back where he used to be…but give him a helmet.

Hmmm.  Intriguing.  Would a helmet limit an umpires peripheral vision enough to make it a bad idea?  Would it confuse quarterbacks if the helmet were the same color as the offense?  Does the umpire get a better look at holding calls from the new position?  (I bet he does.)  Is it worth the disruption to crossing patterns and some running plays to enable quicker offenses like the Colts’ to snap the ball quickly?

I have no answers.  Only questions.  Maybe you have answers.


About Paul Hamann
I am a basketball referee in Washington State, working mostly high school games.

One Response to Here’s a new idea.

  1. jwrosenzweig says:

    Paul, I’m as curious and as non-committal about the new situation as you are. I’m not exactly thrilled about more holding calls (I’m not convinced there’s any clear standard for when it gets called — sorry to call into any question the NFL’s officiating on a ref’s blog, but I’m not saying they’re incompetent. I’m saying I think they have a difficult rule to try to enforce, and it’s therefore liable to be inconsistent), but I’m all about safety for umpires. The helmet idea is intriguing but I envision a lot of potential for issues (as you point out, the color is an issue), and of course it doesn’t remove either the inconvenience of the umpire or the potential for other kinds of injury. The Colts’ complaint about the hurry-up is a little silly, though, I think. At least, I’d need to see some stats about how much time is actually being lost to the umpire’s longer sprint. I’m willing to bet it’s virtually nil.

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