You are currently viewing Numbers on the back of Football referees, what do the letters stand for?

The numbers on the back of football referees, what do the letters stand for?

Ever wondered what the letters on the back of football referees’ shirts stand for?

Wonder no more! In this blog, we’ll be explaining all you need to know about these mysterious letters – from their significance to why they’re worn by NFL referees.

We’ll also be discussing the different positions and responsibilities of NFL referees, as well as the different types of football referees in use today.

So if you’re a football fan who wants to know more about the people who officiate your favourite game, read on!

  1. U = umpire
  2. R = referee
  3. L or LJ = line judge
  4. H or HL = head linesman
  5. F or FJ = field judge
  6. S or SJ = side judge
  7. B or BJ = back judge
  8. C = center judge

What are the letters on the back of football referees’ shirts?

Football referees officiating matches wear shirts with the letters E, D, F, G printed on the back.

These letters indicate their level of experience – with Level 3 and 4 referees having the most senior experience and bearing the letters ‘E’ and ‘G’ respectively.

The letters also indicate their authority when officiating matches, as they are more experienced than Level 1 referees.

Additionally, the letters on the back of football referees’ shirts indicate their level of experience – with Level 1 referees having no letters and Level 2 referees having the letters ‘L’ and ‘R’ respectively.

Why are they there?

Football referees are an important part of the game and play a crucial role in keeping the game safe.

They wear the letters “R” and “F” on their back to identify themselves in case of an emergency.

These letters represent different professions and levels of training, so you can be sure that the referee is qualified for the job he or she is doing. In addition, the referee’s uniform includes a badge with these same letters, which provides even more assurance that they’re qualified and safe on the field!

Why do NFL referees wear numbers?

Referees in the NFL wear numbers to help them stay organized and make quick and correct calls on the field. Numbers are also put on the back of referees to prevent them from being confused with players.

For example, referee 1 would be wearing the number 1, referee 2 would be wearing the number 2, and so on.

It’s important for referees to know their positions so they can make the right call in an emergency situation. For example, if referee 1 is in the middle of the field and they see a player with the number 9 running towards them, they would know to call back referee 2 who is at the other end of the field.

This system has been in place since the early days of the NFL, and is a vital part of officiating today.


Referees play a very important role in any game, be it football, basketball or soccer. They are responsible for ensuring order is maintained and that the game runs smoothly. They make calls on whether play should stop or continue based on their experience and knowledge of the game.

It’s easy to identify referees as they wear numbered shirts, making them easily identifiable no matter where you are in the stadium or arena.

In addition, referees must remain impartial and not show favoritism towards either team – this is crucial in preventing any kind of conflict between players. When making a call, refs must also take into account the safety of everyone involved in the game.


Umpires play a very important role in the game of baseball by keeping the game fair and ensuring that all players follow the rules. They are also responsible for calling penalties and deciding whether a play is dead or alive.

As an umpire, it is essential to be aware of your surroundings at all times and make quick decisions on calls. To do this effectively, wearing proper equipment such as number patches, whistles, etc., is essential.

Additionally, being able to communicate with referees on field is vital in order to maintain discipline among players.

Head Linesman

Head linesman are responsible for a lot in the NFL. They must be quick thinkers who can read and understand the game quickly, while also being able to make quick decisions based on the numbers assigned to them.

In addition to calling penalties, head linesman are responsible for managing the game tempo and ensuring fairness. They monitor all the action on field at any given time, making sure that it runs smoothly and without interruption.

Line Judge

Line judges play an important role in the NFL by calling penalties, making sure the game runs smoothly, and keeping players safe. They wear unique numbers each week to make it easier for referees to identify them and keep track of player positions on the field.

In order to call penalties accurately, line judges must have a good sense of angles and sight lines. They also need to be patient – sometimes games can last for long periods of time! – and not let emotions get in the way of their job.

Side Judge

Side judges are special officials who officiate the game from the side of the field opposite to where the play is taking place. They wear numbered uniforms because it’s often difficult for spectators and players to identify them from a distance.

Apart from refereeing plays on their assigned side of the field, side judges also have responsibilities in enforcing rules during coin tosses and other crucial moments of football matches. In short, they do everything an ordinary NFL referee does – only from the side of the field that isn’t involved in play!

What do the letters stand for?

Football referees are responsible for ensuring the game is fair and that all participants play by the rules.

To help them with this, referees sport a set of identifiers – six letters in total. These letters are often referred to as “ferees,” and are worn on the back of their uniform to help referees be easily identified.

When a referee officiates a game, they are required to wear all of the identifiers at all times while on duty.

Professionals who officiate in both men’s and women’s NCAA Division I sports receive additional training to enhance their skills as referees.

These additional skills include officiating in high-intensity situations such as player collisions and sideline incidents.

Referee (R)

Referees are the unsung heroes of the game. They are responsible for ensuring that all rules are followed and that the game runs smoothly.

To do this effectively, they must undergo rigorous training before officiating a game.

There are other officials who play an important role in refereeing such as Assistant Referee (AR), Assistant Line Judge (ALJ), Fourth Official (4th) and Back Judge (BJ). However, the Referee is usually considered to be at the head of the pack.

Down Judge (DJ)

Down Judge (DJ) referees are responsible for the most important decisions in football – those that can make or break a match. They have keen observation skills and excellent judgement, which helps them make the correct calls during games.

As one of the most important refereeing positions, down judge (DJ) officiating requires highly qualified officials who are able to handle high-pressure situations with ease. This is why it is vital for aspiring referees to undergo special training that will help them excel in this demanding field.

Side Judge (SJ)

The Side Judge is an official who, behind the scenes during football matches, helps to keep things fair.

They are the officials who work in conjunction with the Referee and they have a vital role to play in ensuring a good game for all. If you see them on a football pitch, it would be polite of you to give them a nod!

Back Judge (BJ)

Back judge is responsible for ensuring the game runs smoothly, that referees are following the correct rules, and that players behave properly. They also issue fines and warnings to those who break the rules.

Field Judge (FJ)

If you’re interested in officiating one day, then field judge is the job for you! Field judges help with judging offside positions and other calls in the game.

If everything goes according to plan, they also ensure that a fair game is played every time. Becoming a field judge takes hard work and dedication – it’s not an easy profession to break into. However, if you have what it takes, this could be the perfect career choice for you!

Line Judge (LJ)

If you’re looking for a position in the football world that demands excellent communication and decision-making skills, then look no further than the line judge (LJ).

As the person responsible for making decisions about whether goals are valid or not as well as awarding penalties and sending players off the pitch, LJ is constantly on high alert. They also have to keep an eye on player behaviour in order to ensure games run smoothly.

Being knowledgeable about both football and law is essential for this job – but it’s not all work and no play. In fact, LJs often find themselves playing ball along with their colleagues during down time outside of work!

Umpire (U)

The letters “Umpire” stand for the following: Upper Body, Head, Arms and Legs. If you’re having trouble understanding what a referee’s call means, it might be best to ask him or her directly!

Umpires are responsible for enforcing the rules of the game and making sure that all players abide by them – this includes determining whether a goal is valid or not. They also make officiating decisions during play such as penalties and red cards.

How NFL referees work as a team

Refereeing in the NFL is a demanding and high-pressure job. It’s the responsibility of each referee to ensure the game runs smoothly and that players are treated fairly. In addition, each referee has specific training that prepares them for their role on the field.

The letters behind their name stand for different phases of the game – field, offensive, defensive, and special teams (the coin toss). The NFL referee team is made up of 10 referees who work as a unit.

How many game officials are on the field?

As the official game referee, it’s your job to make sure the game is played the right way. What does that mean, exactly? It all starts with the uniforms you wear.

Referees wear bright yellow uniforms with a green stripe down their pant leg. The referee’s signal book contains all of the rules and signals for both offense and defense. A line judge stands behind the offensive team about 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

There are tworeferees,two linesmen,and one umpire on the field at any given time. With so many officials on the field, the game flows smoothly and is always fair. Thanks for keeping the game safe!

How NFL referees work as a team

There’s no doubt that the NFL referees play a critical role in the game of football. Officiating is a very demanding job, and the referees work as a team to call the game.

When calling penalties or issuing markers, for example, an official would wear “13.” There are three levels of referees – Division 1, Division 2, and college – with each level having different responsibilities.

The NFL referee team is made up of a group of officials who work together as a unit to call the game. Each official wears a unique number that corresponds to their specific role on the field. For instance, the head referee wears “70,” the back judge wears “71,” the line judge wears “72,” the side judge wears “73,” and the field judge wears “74.”

Football Referee / Officials Positions and Responsibilities:

As a football referee or official, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the game and its various rules! In addition to field judges, there are other positions that are critical behind the scenes.

These positions include the umpire, head linesman, line judge, back judge and side judge.

They officiate both offense and defense and make calls based on the rules of football.

The referee is in charge of all the play on the field, from start to finish. So, if you’re looking to officiate a game in the near future, be sure to be knowledgeable about the game and its various positions!

Frequently Asked Questions

What do the letters “FRA” stand for on the back of football referees?

The letters “FRA” stand for the French Referee Assocation. This association was founded in 1909 and is made up of referees from all over Europe. The main aim of this association is to improve refereeing standards and make sure that they are respected by all sides.

Are there any adverse effects to being a football referee?

There is no definitive evidence that football referees suffer from any long-term adverse effects as a result of their job. However, this does not mean that there are no adverse effects at all!

Referees are notorious for receiving a lot of hard knocks while officiating matches, which can potentially lead to some short-term side effects such as concussion.

Additionally, over time the repeated shocks and impacts to the head may cause more serious long-term side effects like memory loss and neuronal damage.

Why did FIFA appoint new referees in November 2017?

FIFA appointed new referees in November 2017 following allegations of bribery, match manipulation and other unethical behavior by former officials. The new referees will hopefully improve the quality of refereeing across all levels of football play.


In this blog, we have answered the question of what the letters on the back of NFL referees’ shirts stand for. We have also explained the different positions and responsibilities of NFL referees, as well as the importance of teamwork. Thank you for reading!

Fact Check

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This piece of content was the collaborative effort of a few different authors and editors here at Sports Clips.

When it comes to the production of the articles that can be seen on the website, it is not at all unusual for our writers and other members of the team to work together on the project.

This is only one of many examples like this. This is the reason why there is more than one author listed for this article.

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  • Post last modified:October 10, 2022
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