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The Work Don't Stop...

Just because the play is over doesn't mean our work is done. What do football officials do between plays?

    1. Keep the peace

    Make sure there aren't any late hits, tussles, etc.

    2. Confirm the next down

    Especially after a penalty... hand signal, or if a real question, a huddle to get it right.

    3. Count players

    Either on offense or on defense. At least two officials counting each. Signal to each other to confirm eleven players on the field. If there are ten or less, not a problem before the snap. If there are twelve and someone doesn't get out, flag for illegal substitution (5 yards, replay the down). If the play starts with twelve on the field, illegal participation, 15 yards)

    4. Check the game clock

    Is it running or stopped? And, is that correct based on the last play? If not, get it fixed.

    5. Return to position

    At the end of each play, officials move in like an accordion to "dead ball officiate" - to keep the peace. Then we return to our start of the play position.

    6. Play Clock

    One official starts the 40/25 second play clock. If there's a clock on the field, then it is on the offense to start a play before it expires. If not, one official gives a visible count down for the teams.

    7. When the offense comes to the line, find your key.

    We all have one or more players we watch when the play starts.

    8. Check offensive line player numbers

    With a few exceptions, need to make sure there are five players with numbers between 50-79. And, though rare, there aren't players with the same number.

    9. Answer questions

    Sometimes coaches have questions. If we know the answer, or can get the answer by radio, we'll do that.

    10. Breathe.

    Not always possible, but most of the time it is. I also look around the field to see that my crew are in their positions. First, so that we're all ready. Second, it helps prevent tunnel vision and widens my field of view.

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