Jay Glazer has a revolutionary idea to improve the level of officiating in the NFL. And he knows it’s a bit crazy. So crazy it could totally work. In a mailbag for The Athletic, he writes:
“Here is MY solution to the officiating problem, as off the wall and out of left field as it sounds, I truly believe in the craziness that I’m about to give you. Here’s the solution: change out the officiating department and hire all new officials, all combat veterans special operation backgrounds. Go hire a bunch of Navy Seals, Marine Recon, Delta Force, those guys. Think about it. They’ll be in the shape to be in better position. They literally can react faster than the rest of the world, even when bullets are flying. They can react quicker than anyone else when something happens on that field. Also, coaches will be a little less inclined to rip into them out on the sidelines. It’s harder to go yell at a Navy Seal if coaches are upset about a call. Again, their reaction time is better than everyone else’s.”
Glazer’s right. This is an idea from not just left field, but the concession stand atop the bleachers in left field. Surely he can’t be the only one, though, who thinks, if the most impressive members of our military wanted to, they could accomplish anything.
Count me as totally on-board with this plan. Those who serve and rise to the most elite levels, are tremendously impressive.
But everyone should know it will take some time to pay dividends. A Delta Force vet may have incredible instincts, reaction time, and fast-twitch recall. Those things are all secondary to an intimate understanding of the rules and positive working relationship with other officials, players, and coaches.
Interestingly enough, there’s already a program that attempts to provide veterans with an opportunity to integrate back into their communities through officiating called Battlefields to Ballfields. Former NFL referee and current Fox rules analyst Mike Pereira created and leads the non-profit.
What I’m saying is that trading fatigues for stripes could be a natural path. Just not for next year.
Also, it should be pointed out that Jeff Triplette, arguably the most criticized referee in recent NFL years, was a colonel in the U.S. Army and Reserve National Guard and earned a Bronze Star serving in the Gulf War. So there’s not exactly a one-to-one relationship with battle bravery and adjudicating pass interference properly.