Expanded booth-to-official communication nixed for 2020

As the NFL continues to adjust how the 2020 season will operate due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the league is adjusting how referee crews will be constructed and how they will operate on game days.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Friday that expanded use of booth-to-official communication -- a development that originally was to be experimented with during preseason games -- will not be implemented for this season, per sources. The lack of preseason games will prevent any test cases involving touching of a loose ball, complete/ incomplete/intercepted passes, spotting the ball and down by contact.

Pelissero added that it will be studied to further identify situations when it could be used without impacting the flow of the game.

Under the existing rules, the replay official or staff in New York may consult with on-field officials or review administration issues, including penalty enforcement, spot of foul, game clock and proper down designations.

Other notes to monitor regarding officiating operations include (per Pelissero):

  • All officials will be given electronic whistles
  • Rules barring an official from doing one team's game more than twice in a season will be relaxed
  • Officials have been preparing with a focus on 6- and 5-man mechanics, just in case

League officiating crews, who will all wear masks during games this year, also will be formed with an increased focus on geography, per Pelissero. The goal is to have as many officials as possible to be able to drive to games in order to reduce the need for air travel.

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