NFL Official Explains Ineligible Lineman Downfield Rule
David Wyant, a veteran NFL official, was on with Ryan Fowler to discuss officiating in the game of football, and more specifically, the protocol in calling the ineligible lineman downfield penalty.
One of the difficulties in officiating football now is that the athletes who are playing are much faster than they have been in the past, including the linemen. Wyant was quick to explain that this is a tough task, but one of the worst things that an official can do is make a call that is obviously the wrong call.
"If you ever watch a player, he can cover 10 yards in almost like a heartbeat... The worst thing that can ever happen as an official is you call something and it's not even close, it's almost like a phantom call, so we always talk about how we want to handle those."
Wyant is also an officiating scout, someone who scouts the collegiate officials to see who does a good enough job to be promoted into an NFL official. One difference between the college game and the NFL game is the number of officials on the field.
"The one thing I did notice last year in scouting different college conferences is how they handle those eight people [referees]: who stays at the line of scrimmage to determine lineman downfield?"
The college game utilizes eight officials while the NFL only uses seven, so in theory it should be an easier task to call the ineligible lineman downfield penalty correctly. However, he noticed that the official that should be watching for that penalty was sometimes not in the correct position on the field.
"I've noticed last year a lot of the conferences never brought that official up to the line of scrimmage. So that would tell me that they would be leaving the end people, the head linesman and the line judge, to be standing at the line of scrimmage and to determine who's down field and who's not."
You can hear the entire conversation below, along with discussions about the new targeting rule change.