NFL clubs were notified today that the NFL Competition Committee has unanimously recommended, and Commissioner Roger Goodell has approved, a limited adjustment to officiating procedures for the 2015 playoffs.
The change permits communication between the referee and NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino – based in the league's officiating headquarters in New York – regarding the correct application of rules in specific situations not currently covered by the instant replay rule.
The specific language of the approved change states:
For the 2015 Postseason, consultation may occur between the Referee and the VP of Officiating or his designee located in the league's officiating headquarters in New York regarding the correct application of playing rules. In addition to the VP of Officiating's current role in Instant Replay, this consultation will only include the appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, the proper administration of the game clock, the correct down, or any other administrative matter not currently reviewable.
This will not include the ability to call or change a foul, or otherwise become involved in on-field judgment calls that are not subject to the current Instant Replay system.
"The committee feels strongly that giving the referee and Dean the ability to consult with each other in certain situations beyond instant replay will further support officiating in the playoffs," said NFL Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay. "The officials do a very difficult job exceedingly well, and we think this adjustment in the playoffs will make them even better."
Blandino and his staff in New York will not call or change a foul or become involved in on-field judgment calls beyond what is already part of the instant replay review process. Communication on administrative matters can be initiated either by Blandino or the referee.
Commissioner Goodell mentioned the concept for the playoffs with NFL owners at the December 2 league meeting in Dallas and said the Competition Committee was expected to make a recommendation shortly.
"We constantly strive to make our game progressively better for the players, coaches and fans," said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent. "This change will assist our officials with an additional resource for clarity and consistency in game administration."