Aaron Santi is a Rogue Valley resident, Principal at Talent Middle School, and part of an elite group of 125 who officiate all games during the NFL season.
During his presentation to our club last Tuesday, Aaron gave an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the requirements to be an NFL official, training, year-around schedules and compensation.
NFL officials are employees of the league and are assigned to one of 17 crews of seven people. Each crew stays together the entire 15-week season. Aaron’s official title is “side judge #50”. Being an official in the NFL is highly competitive and each person is held to a high standard of accountability for each play. The goal of each official is to receive and maintain a rating of “playoff eligible”, even if not assigned to a post season game. Those who do not maintain that standard are fired. Like Aaron, most have “regular” jobs where they live.
During the season, each official is given their game assignment on a Thursday, flies out on Friday after work and returns home late Sunday. Aaron’s crew flies in to their game location from all over the nation. How much does an NFL official make? Base pay for a game rookie is $4,400 per game, and up to $11,000 per game for an experienced official. A Super Bowl official is paid $13,500. In addition, there are many other valuable perks including travel, meals, lodging and 401k.
One of the most enlightening parts of the presentation was a look at the NFL rules book. It is extremely complicated and thicker than the wine list at the Jacksonville Inn.
Mr. Santi concluded by offering up some FAQ’s he receives:
Does he have a favorite team? No.
Does he have to work the same position for each game? Yes.
Do his friends get to hang out with the players? No.
Can you get me an autograph? Absolutely Not.
Does the NFL favor certain teams to win because they represent bigger markets? Absolutely not.
Are players and/or coaches prima donnas or jerks? Sometimes but most are just regular people.