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Back Judge

Football Terms – Football Referees

The back judge is a football officiating position in the professional, college and high school ranks. The position was first included in the National Football League in 1947.

During the game, the back judge is situated 20 yards into the defensive backfield. His job is to watch nearby defenders, runners and eligible receivers. Other responsibilities include:

  • Keep an eye out for clipping on kick returns.
  • Along with the field judge, stands under the goal post and rules on field goal attempts. On any kick not made from scrimmage, he has the final say.
  • Ensure that the defensive team has no more than 11 players on the field when the ball is snapped.
  • Monitor the area between the field judge and umpire.
  • Rule whether passes are complete or incomplete and call pass interference penalties.
  • In the National Football League, the back judge is also tasked with ruling on delay of game penalties. In college football, he keeps track of either the play clock or game clock. In high school, the back judge acts as the game�s official timekeeper.

Some of the NFL�s back judges in recent years include:

  • Scott Helverson
  • Perry Paganelli
  • Bob Waggoner
  • Tony Steratore
  • Scott Green

Due to the length of the NFL season, the back judges (and all other officials) are paid on a contract basis instead of being full-time employees. The NFL is the only major sports league to adopt this practice.

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