Ed Hochuli, a longtime NFL official, talks with Matt this week about a couple of the new rules being implemented for next season, why he likes the replay system and how the league has increased safety for the players. Plus, he discusses the amount of support he felt last year during the lockout, his intense schedule during the fall and why refereeing has become a family business of sorts.
Among his observations:
On the controversial new rule banning players from delivering forcible blows with the crown of the helmet: “It’s only when the runner squares up the defender in the open field and intentionally tries to hit him with the crown of his helmet. … I don’t think it’s going to be as big of an issue as people think it is, and I think we will be able to officiate it.”
On improved player safety for quarterbacks and wide receivers: “We definitely see a lot of changes in the way players are dealing with those open-field dangerous tackles, and I think it’s definitely helped make the game safer.”
On the current state of NFL officiating: “I think that officiating is at an extremely high level right now. We get graded — most people don’t realize, but the league spends about eight hours on every game and grades each official on each play. … There is a tremendous amount of feedback that we get on what we’re doing wrong, and the percentage of accuracy is extremely high — it’s between 98 and 99 percent.”