NFL suspends full-time officiating program for season

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Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron confirmed Friday the NFL has put its full-time officials' program on hiatus.

Riveron told NFL Network's Omar Ruiz on Friday from the NFL Officiating Clinic that the full-time program won't be used this season.

"Unfortunately right now for this year that program will not be used," Riveron said. "However, like I said, we use our officials during the year, we take them out to the clubs, we take them out to meetings still, that program in a way will continue, not just by the name that we call it now."

ESPN first reported that the program would go away in 2019 as part of ongoing labor discussions with the Referees Association.

The full-time program, which began in 2017, included 20 percent of the 122 officials. Officials in the program took part in rule development, offseason team visits, and other events year-round.

Other notes from Riveron:

On how he's communicated the new PI rule:

"We go during the spring and we visit all the clubs, all 32 clubs, we've done extensive information gathering, and we collaborate with a lot of people, officials, owners, coaches, players, retired players we've put this together, we go before the competition committee, we finally come up with a recommendation to ownership, ownership votes on it. Once we do that, now we've put it all together, now we do a tour, we got to all 32 clubs, we tell them what it's about, we explain to them what it's about, we welcome their questions. And in certain situations they've come up with ideas to even enhance the program. So again it's very collaborative, everyone is involved, and hopefully by this time we've got it all down pat and we'll be very successful with it."

Whether he's worried about unintended consequences of the rule:

"Well, you really can't say reluctance when you talk about unintended consequences. When an idea comes up, it's always a great idea. Or we have to see how it makes the game better and we have to see how it affects the game, and that's how unintended consequences come in. We have a lot of very smart people, as I said earlier, that we consult with to come up with the what-ifs. How is it going to impact the game? Are we going to be successful? And from there we go forward."

How long have they been looking at this prior to NFC title game?:

"It's all about data. I venture to say it's probably going back five, six, seven years. Now obviously a play of this magnitude in a playoff elevated the subject matter to another level. But again we've been talking about this for years. And again we look at the unintended consequences. At the end of the day, how do we get better? We are very good. But we're always looking to get better."

Message to officials at clinic to incorporate new rules:

"It's not just about pass interference, it's about consistency. Our goal is when Seattle plays at 1 o'clock and Miami plays at 1 o'clock, that we officiate it on the field and in replay the same way. Everyone wants the same thing; from fans, players, to owners, sportscasters, consistency. And that's what it's all about this weekend."

On creating more seamless transition with new rules early in season:

"It's all about video. We have to make sure the data and the video is there. We train our people, our men and women, using the video. We make sure we're all on the same page we move around all weekend long, they hear the same message, the clubs hear the same message, the media hears the same message. Consistency, consistency, and that's how we all win."

On addressing gambling becoming more legalized with officials:

"The league has been very good about that for years. Even though we just recently talked about legalized gambling, our officials have always been scrutinized, have been vetted, and we've always had a process in place to make sure that everything is OK."

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