Tom Pelissero of NFL Network has reported several key changes to how games will be officiated in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a series of tweets, Pelissero noted how things will operate differently for officials this season.
1. Delaying of expansion of booth-to-official communication
In a rule that was adopted this offseason, the NFL had planned to test an expansion of the booth-to-official communication during the preseason. Well, since there won’t be any preseason games, this experiment is being scrapped for 2020.
Under existing rules, the replay official and designated members of the officiating department may consult with on-field officials or review game administration issues, including penalty enforcement, the proper down, spot of a foul and the game clock. But no expansion for 2020.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 31, 2020
2. Electronic whistles to be used
This is probably a good idea given how easily the coronavirus spreads via mouth. I hate to say it, but we’ll probably see the first electronic whistle failure during a primetime game. You know it’s going to happen.
3. Officials will be allowed to cover the same team more than twice in a season
To be honest, I didn’t know this was a rule. However, given there could be situations where officials either test positive for COVID-19 or must be quarantined due to exposure, the NFL has decided to relax this rule for 2020.
4. Preparation for 5-6 man mechanics
Even with that rule relaxed, there could be situations where officiating crews are down some bodies on gameday and will be preparing to run with skeleton crews for games.
There are likely more changes coming about, but this is what Pelissero is reporting as of this writing. NFL Sunday’s are going to look a little different in 2020.
NFL officiating crews this season will be formed with an increased focus on geography, trying to have as many officials as possible able to drive to the game and reduce flights, per source.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 31, 2020
More shortly on @nflnetwork
5. A bigger focus on local officiating crews
This one is huge. To cut down on airport time, the NFL is looking at an increased focus on geography to determine which games officials are assigned to in 2020.