The NFL took the bizarre step this week of assigning an “all-star” officiating crew to probably the most highly-anticipated sport of the season, including to the playoff-like frenzy for Monday evening’s matchup between the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams.
Referee Clete Blakeman will work the sport with solely two members of his common crew, umpire Ramon George and down decide Dana McKenzie. The opposite 5 officers — together with Jim Lapetina, who will deal with replay — had been plucked from 4 different crews.
The method is analogous to how the NFL assigns officers to playoff video games, a course of that’s based mostly on efficiency and seniority quite than crew. However it’s hardly ever, if ever, employed earlier than the postseason. Officers usually work on the identical eight-person crews all through the common season to maximize continuity and familiarity amongst members.
Particular person crew members are often juggled for well being or scheduling causes. However a sequence of actions this season have indicated the league is shifting away from the constant crew idea, in favor of a extra aggressive administration of officiating. Earlier this season, the league bounced down decide Hugo Cruz amongst 4 crews earlier than finally making him its first-ever official to be fired for efficiency through the season.
NFL spokesman Michael Signora confirmed Sunday that “there’s a rotation amongst the crews all through the season.” Signora didn’t present particulars on the choice to overhaul Blakeman’s crew for Monday evening’s sport.
An officiating supply stated Sunday that the 5 officers added to Monday evening’s crew are all extremely revered and have carried out properly this season.
The Chiefs-Rams sport, initially scheduled to be performed in Mexico Metropolis earlier than it was relocated to Los Angeles, is a uncommon matchup. Since 1970, there have been solely 4 different video games pitting groups with one or fewer losses this late within the season. And in accordance to the Elias Sports activities Bureau, that is the most recent matchup ever between two groups averaging at the very least 33 factors per sport.
The next is the full crew for Monday evening’s sport, as listed on the official flip card printed by the NFL, with the officers’ everlasting referee in parenthesis:
Referee: Clete Blakeman
Umpire: Ramon George (Blakeman)
Down decide: Dana McKenzie (Blakeman)
Line decide: Rusty Baynes (John Hussey)
Area decide: Dale Shaw (Jerome Boger)
Aspect decide: Brad Freeman (Clay Martin)
Again decide: Tony Steratore (Boger)
Replay: Jim Lapetina (Brad Allen)