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NFL to Scrap All-Star Officiating Crews

March 25, 2003

PHOENIX (AP) _ The NFL plans to use intact crews to officiate playoff games next season rather than all-star units _ a move that comes after a postseason marked by officiating disputes.

The move, announced Tuesday at the NFL meetings, is designed to ensure more cohesion by using officials who have worked together all year. Until now, playoff crews had been made up of officials who rated the highest at their positions but hadn’t necessarily worked together before.

The proposal was developed by the officiating department and needs only to be approved by commissioner by Paul Tagliabue, and he is expected to do so.

The most prominent gaffe in the playoffs occurred in San Francisco’s 39-38 win over the New York Giants in an NFC wild-card game.

With six seconds left, the Giants lined up for the winning field-goal attempt, the snap was botched and holder Matt Allen threw a desperation pass downfield. The Giants were called for an illegal receiver downfield, but tapes showed the 49ers should also have been called for pass interference.

That would have resulted in offsetting penalties and allowed New York a second shot at the winning field goal.

In the past, the NFL hasn’t wanted to go to full crews for the playoffs because most have first- or second-year officials. Under the new system, the rookies would be replaced by veterans from other crews.

The day after, Tagliabue issued a rare statement criticizing the officiating.

``It might make sense,″ said Detroit coach Steve Mariucci, who was San Francisco’s coach in the game against the Giants.

``They learn to communicate with each other and work with each other from being together all season. There would be more cohesion.″

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