What Is the Role of the Referee in Football?

In American football, the referee is the member of the officiating crew that provides general oversight of the game, having the final say in all penalty calls. The referee stands between 10 and 12 yards behind the quarterback at the beginning of the play, and he follows the ball and ball handler to determine if any players violate the rules.

When the center snaps the ball to the quarterback to begin a play, the referee focuses on the quarterback and the ball handlers, maintaining the final say in the placement of the ball once the play has finished, according to the official NFL Digest of Rules. The referee is the official that holds the most responsibility, and he is able to overrule calls made by other officials.