Local football officials learn about NFL’s ‘It Factor’

When Mike Pereira scouted young talent as Director of Of- ficials for the National Football League, he was not concerned if the prospective professional official made the correct call. His idea of the “It Factor” is more about appearance.

That was the least important factor, he told members of the Greater New Orleans Football Officials Association at their Aug. 31 meeting.

“You can teach a young official to make the right calls. The first thing that strikes me is how he looks.

“Is his uniform free of wrinkles or his cap clean? I look at how he stands,” Pereira said.

“I can look at a guy and see whether he has the ‘It Factor.’”

Today, as the rules analyst for Fox Sports, Pereira’s interpretations of rules is a highlight of Fox Sports’ telecasts.

He appears during “official reviews” to present his view of a call. And with more and more plays being reviewed, Pereira’s role is a valuable asset.

“Do you realize that officials make decisions in 1/26th of a second? And they try to process what they saw and come up with the same call I made in two minutes after watching the replay five times in slow motion. And I never get a call wrong,” he quipped.

But as an executive official following a brief (two year) career on the field, Pereira has seen rule changes come and go. And the officials have to keep up with the whims of the rule-makers.

That’s why he has a strong affection for football officials at every level, and gave his time to speak to the local association at his own expense the day after analyzing the Saints-Houston preseason game in the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

He spent more than two hours speaking and answering questions. In particular, the “It Factor” got everyone’s attention.

“I really don’t care about a guy’s physical appearance as much as how he stands,” he continued. “I don’t judge an official’s call on a particular play, but I judge how he throws his flag. Is he decisive? Does he throw it, or does he just float it out there?”

Pereira said how the official communicates with others is another key factor in determining if the prospect will be successful as he moves up.

“He has to communicate with the coach, he has to communicate with the players and has to communicate with the other officials.”

The final factor is being healthy, Pereira pointed out.

“If you’re not healthy, and I don’t mean a little chubby, it’s kind of like not knowing the rules. You can’t officiate to the best of your ability if you’re not healthy. If you don’t feel well, it’s going to affect your decisions.

“So you put all of that together, and that’s how the NFL went from a scouting program to a recruiting program,” Pereira noted.

“We sent bird dogs out to high school games and to small college games. We didn’t need to send people out to see Division I college games because we knew who the best of those guys were anyway,” he said.

“And if we found an official who fit the mold, then we fit him into the program.”

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