The NFL announced that they will be hiring 24 full-time officials. After the five-year process with the NFL and the NFLRA (NFL Referees Association), the change will be transitioned throughout the 2017 season.
This might come as a surprise, but officials were not already full-time employees. In fact, most of them have other jobs from being attorneys to high school principals. This means that the 24 officials who will now be full-time hires within the NFL will have the time to be the best they can be and it will help the development of rules, according to ESPN.
The NFL had replacement officials during weeks one through three of the 2012 season due to the refs not being able to come to consensus on the collective bargaining agreement. Roger Goodell thought these replacement refs could do well as full-timers, but no one else thought it was a good idea after seeing how poorly they preformed. The replacements were from high school teams and the Arena Football League, and it made those three weeks of the 2012 season the worst the NFL has ever seen.
According to ESPN, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said not having officials who are already full-time is “madness”, so he is probably very happy this is finally happening. If you are wondering how the officials feel about being hired full-time, this is something they agreed to back in 2012 when discussions began with the NFL and NFLRA. This will be a test in the first year, and after this season, the NFL and NFLRA will decide if this should continue.