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Bruce Arians wants officials to be full-time employees

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NFL officials aren’t full-time employees, in part because the NFL doesn’t want to pay the premium necessary to persuade talented officials to ditch their primary sources of income. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians believes that the time for making the investment has come.

They don’t put in the hours we do,” Arians said, via ESPN.com. “They watch a little film Friday night and Saturday, and then they make choices that [affect] the outcomes of our games. . . . They’re not professional. They don’t work for the league. The union works for the league.”

That last part isn’t technically accurate. The union represents the officials in their negotiations with the league. But the officials definitely work for the league. Just not on a full-time basis.

“We have 17 referees,” Arians said. “They need to all be professionals.”

By “professional,” he means that it would be their only profession.

“That’s their job; they don’t have another job,” Arians said. “They work practice, they work games, they can work Arena [Football League game], they can work at their craft.”

Arians has also suggested something similar to one our own crackpot-ish ideas. He wants the calls to be made in the league office by a group of centrally-located officials.

“They’d have to upgrade the number of guys that are watching them, but I think we have the money in the league to do that,” Arians said.

His concern is that there are too many variables between crews, which makes it harder for the teams to prepare for each game.

“We scout the official that we have each Sunday as hard as we do the opposing team, because they’re all different and all call things differently, and they have different interpretations,” Arians said.

Still, there’s no reason to thing that hiring full-time officials would smooth out those distinctions. The better approach would indeed be league-office oversight. But the various folks in the league office who would be responsible for the individual 1:00 p.m. ET games would have the same potential variations in interpretation and application.

Full-time officials won’t dramatically increase the accuracy of calls. A full embrace of technology in an efficient way could. Whether that happens with the use of a video official at each game who assists with the making of calls in real time or increased league-office oversight of games, as the NFL becomes more and more important, it becomes more and more important to get all calls right.