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How to become an NFL Referee?

Lend your expertise: what does it take to become an NFL Referee?

Note: Given the growing interest in the professional sports field, we're inviting our experienced professionals to share their knowledge.

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Grant’s Answer


Becoming an NFL referee is a highly competitive and rigorous process that requires a lot of dedication, skill, and knowledge of the game of football. Here are the steps one would typically follow to achieve this goal:

1. Understanding the Game: Before pursuing a career as an NFL referee, it's crucial to have a deep understanding of the game of football. This includes knowing the rules, strategies, and nuances of the game.
2. Education: There are no specific educational requirements to become an NFL referee, but having a high school diploma is the minimum requirement. A bachelor's degree is usually preferred, especially in a related field such as physical education, sports management or even business.
3. Starting Small: Most NFL referees start their career officiating at the high school or lower college levels. This is to gain experience and to understand the intricacies of being a referee. Experience is very important.
4. Officiating Experience: The NFL requires potential referees to have a minimum of 10 years of experience officiating football games. This experience must include at least five years at the varsity collegiate level.
5. Attend Officiating Camps/Clinics: These camps, often organized by the NFL, are designed to help potential referees hone their skills, learn the rules of the game, and understand the expectations of an NFL referee.
6. Join a Professional Association: Joining associations like the National Association of Sports Officials can provide you with resources, networking opportunities, and can significantly increase your chances of being noticed by the NFL.
7. Apply to the NFL: Once you meet the necessary requirements and have gained substantial experience, you can apply to become an NFL referee. The NFL has an Officiating Development Program that identifies and prepares top officiating candidates for potential NFL positions.
8. Pass the Background Check and Physical Fitness Test: All potential NFL referees must pass a rigorous background check and a physical fitness test.
9. Training and Evaluation: Once selected, candidates go through intensive training, evaluation, and begin as part-time hires officiating preseason and some regular season games.
10. Climbing the Ranks: Over time, with experience and proven performance, referees can be promoted to work high-profile games, including playoffs and the Super Bowl.

Remember, patience and persistence are key in this process. It can take many years to become an NFL referee, and only a select few make it to the professional level.

I hope this helps!