One of the issues that led the NFL to lock out its officials prior to the 2012 season was the league's interest in having officials work full time. Currently, officials have other full-time jobs and work three or four days a week during the season preparing for games. (For example, Ed Hochuli is an attorney and Mike Carey owns a company that manufacturers ski and snowboard equipment.) And according to an ESPN report from last summer, more than 90 percent of those officials aren't willing to leave their full-time jobs or the salaries that go with them.
Those sentiments haven't changed, at least to hear Hochuli tell it. In an interview with 60 Minutes Sports on Showtime, the 62-year-old says he already works full-time hours as an official and squeezes in time to be a lawyer.
“I am a full-time official,” Hochuli said (via PFT). “I'm as full-time as the coaches or the players or anybody could be. If they said, ‘Ed, you can't be a lawyer anymore, you can only do this,' there's nothing else that I could do.”
While we don't agree that Hochuli is "as full-time as the coaches" (we're guessing he doesn't spend February-April obsessively preparing for the NFL Draft), we're not convinced he -- or any other officials -- needs to be. The issue isn't that they don't have a command of the rules (something the replacements couldn't say), it's making split-second decisions in enforcing those rules. And no amount of offseason work will change that.
Real-world example: Back in 2008, Hochuli ruled that quarterback Jay Cutler, then with the Broncos, had thrown an incomplete pass when, in fact, replay ruled it a fumble. Instead of possession going to the Chargers, Hochuli's quick whistle blew the play dead and the ball was spotted at San Diego's 10-yard-line. Moments later later, Denver scored, made the 2-point conversion, and eventually won, 39-38.
"Affecting the outcome of a game is a devastating feeling," Hochuli said at the time. "Officials strive for perfection -- I failed miserably. Although it does no good to say it, I am very, very sorry."
So here's the question: Would this have happened if Hochuli had been a "full-time employee"? Almost certainly since, again, this has nothing to do with Hochuli's mastery of the rules but his split-second interpretation of them.