After a season filled with high-profile controversies, a group of NFL game officials will work Canadian Football League games this summer as part of a collaboration, the leagues announced Friday morning.
The program will give those officials additional live-field reps during the latter part of the offseason, when they otherwise would have no football-related work. They'll be placed mostly as side and field judges, where rule differences will be minimized, in both preseason and regular-season games from June until the end of July.
Importantly, the NFL officials also will be exposed to a number of CFL innovations designed to improve officiating. The CFL now subjects many judgment calls to replay review, including offensive and defensive pass interference, and this season it will empower a centralized video official to correct obvious mistakes even if they are not reviewable.
In exchange, the NFL will take an unspecified number of CFL officials into its development program, giving them additional training and access to the NFL hiring process when openings occur. They'll attend minicamps and training camps while also officiating preseason games.
"Any time our newer officials can get more reps on the field, during practices or games, that will make them better officials," NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said in a statement. "The collaboration with the CFL will certainly benefit us as we prepare for the 2016 season, and we look forward to welcoming our CFL officiating counterparts to our development program later this spring."
Said CFL senior vice president of football Glen Johnson: "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. We're excited that a group of our officials will actively participate in the NFL development program and now have a formal path forward to be considered as prospects in their league."