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Football Friday: Too Men-y Officials

Last week we went over some of rules and regulations of the game. This week we will discuss the people who oversee many of the rules and regulations. During a game you will see two different teams, reppin’ there colors. In the mix of these players is men running around in black and white striped shirts. These men are the “officials.” Officials have control of the game. They are there to ensure players aren’t hurting each other, monitor the clock, and are responsible for decisions regarding rules and their enforcement, amongst other things. Officials not only have their beautiful outfits, they carry a whistle and a weighted bright yellow flag. A flag being thrown signals that there was a penalty during the play. While I’m sure you’ve heard these officials referred to as “idiots,” “dumbasses,” and much, much worse. Those aren’t actually their titles!

There are seven officials and each of them has a different title and task.

1.     Referee:

The referee has general oversight and control of the game. The referee is usually known as “the bad guy.” He has the final say on score, downs, and any other disagreements that can, and will arise. This official is also in charge of letting coaches know when a player is disqualified for unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike conduct. He is the only official to wear a white hat, which can be helpful for those of you watching.

2.     Umpire:

The umpire is in charge of the legality of players’ equipment, and watching all plays along the line of scrimmage. He ensures the offensive team has no more than 11 players on the field prior to the snap. This official is right in the middle of the action, which means if he’s not quick on his feet he will be flattened like a pancake. He is the one to call most holding penalties. He keeps track of all time-outs, the coin-toss winner, and score. His most important job though? If it’s raining, the Umpire is in charge of drying off the ball.

3.     Head Linesman:

The head linesman straddles the line of scrimmage and watches for offside, illegal men downfield, and any other line-of-scrimmage violations. (Don’t stress, we will cover what these violations are and mean next week!) He is also in charge on ruling out-of-bounds plays.

4.     Line Judge:

The line judge lines up on the opposite side of the field from the head linesman. Long job description short, he essentially helps all the above officials do their job. The line judges most important job is keeping track of time. He is also responsible for making sure the home team knows there is five minutes left until the second half begins. Not the most exciting job, but it’s a (time) worthy one…

5.     Back Judge:

The back judge sets up 20 yards deep on the defensive side. It is his job to ensure there are no more than 11 defensive players on the field. He also makes decisions involving catching, recovery and illegal touching. He rules on catches, pass interference, and possession of balls going out of bounds. The back judge and field judge are responsible for standing below the goalpost and ruling whether kicks are good.

6.     Field Judge:

The field judge is responsible for the 40/25 second clock. At the end of a play, the team with the ball has 40 seconds to begin the next play or they are penalized with “delay of game.” If there was a timeout, injury, or other unusual delay a 25 second interval is set in place between plays. As stated above, he is responsible for ruling on kicks at the goalpost, as well as calling pass interference, catching, recovery, and illegal touching.

7.     Side Judge:

The side judge positions himself 20 yards down the field from the line of scrimmage. He essentially acts as another back judge, and is another set of eyes on the field.


You may have noticed in the officials’ descriptions the use of “he” is used. This is because up until recently there has only been male officials. In April of 2015, Sarah Thomas was hired as the first, full-time, female official for the NFL. Sarah made her first debut in September of the same year during a Chiefs and Texans game. This has been a huge step for women in national sports, but still slightly, okay, extremely frustrating it took until 2015 for a woman to be hired to officiate in the NFL. But that’s a rant for another day…

Player of the Week:


This week’s player of the week is, Clay Matthews. Matthews is a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. This 6’3” hunk of a man was one of the top prospects in the 2009 draft. He was Green Bay’s first round pick (26th overall) after they traded up to be able to make the selection. Not only is he a stand out player, but you can catch him on your tv throughout the week. His latest stunt? State Farm commercials. Never have I wanted to be a State Farm Agent so much in my life…


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Kaitlyn is a recent grad the University of Wyoming, where she got her degree in Marketing. She has been the Campus Correspondent for a Pink level chapter, a Chapter Advisor to some amazing chapters, and now has the pleasure of being a Region Leader. Born and raised on the Western Slope of Colorado, her love for nature and the outdoors comes naturally. Kaitlyn lives for football season, but finds way to stay preoccupied during the off-season. She enjoys long walks in the mountains, beer as cold as her heart, and bacon on her burgers. You can follow Kaitlyn’s adventures on Instagram, @kaysoup.
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