NFL, CFL expand officiating exchange program to 12 participants

The National Football League has expanded its officiating exchange program with the Canadian Football League, according to a joint announcement between the leagues.

Six NFL officials will work games during the early part of the CFL season, which starts next month. In turn, the CFL will send six of its officials to NFL minicamps, training camp and/or preseason games. The total of 12 participating officials nearly doubles last year's numbers.

The primary goal of the program, according to executives from both leagues, is to provide younger officials with extra experience.

"We can't just practice if we want to get better," said Glen Johnson, the CFL's senior vice president of football. "We really need live snaps. You look at the NFL guys that came last year, and each of them worked five or six of our games. That got them close to 800 or 900 snaps that they wouldn't have gotten. The same for us. So both sides get value out of this."

Johnson recently wrapped up arrangements for this year's program with Al Riveron, the NFL's new senior vice president of officiating. Riveron was promoted to replace Dean Blandino, who departed for a broadcasting job.