Saints' Sean Payton: It's 'madness' that NFL officials still aren't full-time

Saints coach Sean Payton is astonished that NFL officials aren't full-time employees. It's not an original criticism but perhaps there's a reason for that: The officiating has been inadequate this season, woefully so some people would argue.

"There aren't many Mondays that go by that there aren't at least 28 to 30 head coaches that are ticked off about certain calls that were missed or weren't made. You see it all the time," Payton said during an appearance on "Pro Football Talk Live."

Payton was speaking specifically about a pass-interference-call-that-wasn't in the Falcons-Seahawks game two weeks ago, and another in the Saints' season opener against the Raiders.

"And it's the frustration that the system currently hasn't improved. We say it has, but it hasn't. We're the only league that has officials that have primary other jobs, which is really madness. We can pay these guys. They should be full-time NFL officials, and they should be working throughout the week, communicating. And I know they get their hour in here, their hour in there, and maybe even more than that. But by and large, every other sports league employs full-time officials. And ours, these guys all have other significant jobs. And I just think it's very difficult to do with the speed of the game."

We understand Payton's frustrations because everybody -- coaches, players, media, fans -- shares them. But we remain unconvinced that making officials full time will fix anything. The issue isn't that they don't understand the rules, it's that they don't enforce them consistently.

Former NFL official Mike Carey was asked about this in the days leading up to Super Bowl 50.

"The more time you put into anything the better you're going to get at it," Carey said at the time. "But if you're going to define full-time as 40 hours a week, [NFL officials are] there already. If you're defining it as having an exclusive job, then if they're paid to do that I'm sure they'd like to do that. It all depends on how the league and the union will work together.

"But once you make them full time, you have to have a very detailed training program about how you're going to get that consistency all the way around. And it will get incrementally better. ...

"I'm for more opportunity for more collective training," he continued. "But you have to bear in mind -- there's a double edge to that sword; there are some that aren't going to be able to give up their job because they've got good jobs. It's going to have to be something that comes in steps, incrementally. You just can't automatically bring everybody in -- you'd lose some of your top officials. ...

"You can't get into the league unless you're really good at your own job outside of the league. It's just one of those things they make sure that they have ... they try to get spotless people. If you're successful outside of the NFL they think you'll be successful inside the NFL, and they've been proven right. So to try to pry some of those [people] away from, you know, seven-figure jobs, that might be pretty tough."

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson joined CBS Sports in June 2011. He covers the NFL and NFL Draft for and CBS Sports HQ, and is a regular on the Pick Six Podcast. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from... Full Bio

Join our Free $1,000,000 Parlay Challenge

Our Latest Stories