NFL considering testing larger officiating crews in preseason

Tim Polzer
Friday February 28th, 2014

The NFL has used seven-man officiating crews since 1978. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) The NFL has used seven-man officiating crews since 1978. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

The NFL might experiment with eight-official crews during 2014 preseason games, according to the league's head of officiating, Dean Blandino, as reported by's Judy Battista.

The extra set of eyes would be positioned in the offensive backfield and watch for holding infractions by defensive players. The league's latest impetus for adding an official is improving the crew's ability to view the entire field, especially as passing schemes spread receivers and defensive backs across the field.

The league has used seven-official crews since 1978. The league's latest look at adding an official is still a "long way" from becoming a regular-season reality, Battista reported. The league's Competition Committee will be charged with examining the data from the tests, so don't look for an eight-man crew to be adopted for the 2014 regular season.

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The NFL tested an eighth on-field official -- a deep judge positioned in the middle of the field behind the secondary -- during a dozen preseason games in 2011, but did not adopt the additional official during regular-season play. The Big 12 added an eighth on-field official last season to better cover the conference's up-tempo offenses.

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