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NFL is finally ready to do something about the referees

Vikings DE Brian Robinson said he was “sick and tired of the reffing in this league” after a huge missed call in Thursday’s loss. Changes are coming, maybe.

Dallas Cowboys v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

“I’m just going to say it right now: I’m sick and tired of the reffing in this league,’’ Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said after officials missed an obvious roughing the passer call on a critical two-point conversion attempt.

“I’m sick and tired of it. You’ve got holding calls all over the place that people don’t want to call it. Bradford gets hit in the face at the end of the game, and you don’t call it. I’m not laying this loss on reffing, but at some point it’s got to be better.’’

He might get his wish as soon as next season.

NFL vice president Troy Vincent dropped some conveniently timed news on Thursday. Vincent said the league is planning to hire 17 full time officials and put an eighth ref on the field for games.

The idea behind full-time refs is that they’d be able to spend more time reviewing the finer points of the rule book and refining how the games are called. Right now, officials are part-time employees with day jobs somewhere else.

There’s nothing to guarantee that full-time refs would be any better than part-timers, but at this point, after yet another high profile officiating mistake in a primetime game, they can’t really ignore the pressure not to do something when it comes to officiating.

Adding another official to game-day crews, bumping the number on the field from seven to eight, is something the league has already been experimenting with. In August, for the second year in a row, the NFL put an eighth official on the field for Week 2 of the preseason, a middle judge in the defensive backfield.

The idea behind putting another set of eyes there is that it will help with officiating on downfield passing plays. It’s something Richard Sherman, who knows the rulebook as well as anyone in the NFL, has called for in the past.

Full-time refs and an extra official won’t fix all of the officiating errors we’ve seen this season. It’s easy to forget that these are humans making split-second decisions. There’s going to be error. Plus, officials don’t get downgraded for not making a call, whereas their grades take a big hit for making the wrong call.

To help with that, Vincent also said that expanded replay options will once again be on the competition committee agenda in 2017.