Sean Payton

NFL officiating is increasingly coming under more and more scrutiny this season, and what might surprise many people is that all NFL officials are not full-time employees of the league. One vocal critic of this is Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, who in an interview with NBC Sports Radio’s “Pro Football Talk Live” called that fact “madness”.

“There aren’t many Mondays that go by that there aren’t at least 28 to 30 head coaches that are ticked off about certain calls that were missed or weren’t made. You see it all the time,” said Payton, who was referring to the egregiously missed pass interference call late in the recent Falcons-Seahawks game and a similar call that went against his team in Week 1. “And it’s the frustration that the system currently hasn’t improved. We say it has, but it hasn’t.”

“We’re the only league that has officials that have primary other jobs, which is really madness. We can pay these guys. They should be full-time NFL officials, and they should be working throughout the week, communicating. And I know they get their hour in here, their hour in there, and maybe even more than that. But by and large, every other sports league employs full-time officials. And ours, these guys all have other significant jobs. And I just think it’s very difficult to do with the speed of the game.”

Payton has argued that pass interference calls should be reviewable with instant replay, and has made that argument for a while. The conversation began on Tuesday when he was asked about how few penalties are called when Cam Newton takes big hits.

He also doesn’t like touchbacks being brought out to the 25 yard line, which Payton called a “lead balloon”, and prefers the college replay system to the NFL’s, where an official in the booth can buzz down to the officials on the field if something needs to be reviewed/changed.

“Listen, I think we’ve got a great group of officials. These guys work their tails off. And yet, there are so many things right now that need to be fixed. And I think we as a league need to look at and help ’em,” Payton added. “When it comes to the challenge system, when it comes to this red handkerchief with a ball of sand in my pocket and a rubber band around it, and I get to throw two, and if two of ’em are right I get to throw a third. There’s a lot of stuff that I don’t think is being driven necessarily by what’s best for our game. It might be best for television. Those are the things we’ve got to clean up.

“Because I think the job description they have right now is awfully difficult … So we’ve gotta be better in that area and be more flexible when it comes to replay. I think those are just a handful of thoughts.”


About Matt Lichtenstadter

Recent Maryland graduate. I've written for many sites including World Soccer Talk,, Testudo Times, Yahoo's Puck Daddy Blog and more. Houndstooth is still cool, at least to me. Follow me @MattsMusings1 on Twitter, e-mail me about life and potential jobs at matthewaaron9 at Yahoo dot com.

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