There would be no NFL football without them. They are essential, working to assure that neither team gets an unfair advantage. They operate under the radar—at least until they make a controversial call.
The Third Team tells the stories from the inside and behind the scenes about who the NFL game official is, both off and on the field. Interviews with 25 former and current NFL officials, former coaches Tony Dungy, Herman Edwards, Steve Mariucci, and Jerry Glanville, along with network analyst and former player Matt Millen, among others, provide a look into a world that is not known to the average fan. The book tells about:
The Immaculate Reception–with reflections by the man who had to make the call, and how he made it; why the modern NFL is so difficult to officiate; how the NFL official responds when coaches berate him on the sidelines; how instant replay has changed officiating; how officials balance Monday-through-Friday jobs with the demands of “part-time” work in the NFL; the passion and competitiveness that drive the NFL official toward the impossible goal of perfection.
My love for the game and an interest in what happens behind the scenes fueled my curiosity about the men in the striped shirts. Enduring the stresses of a mainstream job Monday through Friday, then spending the weekend in the high-pressure world of the NFL cannot be easy. I wanted to know: Who are these guys?
While I started the book with the idea it would be written with a third person’s point of view, The Third Team really more reflects the NFL officials’ world as they have seen it. The book provides the officials’ own perspectives on their work and lives.
From having spoken to these men, among others, I have achieved what I wanted to by undertaking this work; I have learned something about who the NFL official is and what drives him. They tell fascinating stories from inside a profession that is largely misunderstood, yet is a critical part of America’s most popular spectator sport. These are remarkable people with remarkable stories. Anyone interested in what happens inside the game on NFL playing fields will enjoy the stories from the lives and work of the NFL’s game officials.