What Is a Football Down Judge? (Full Explanation)

Football down judge: NFL football just couldn’t be played without the constant effort of the Down Judge that oversees every NFL game. Who is the football down judge? Find out the roles and responsibilities of this referee via today’s blog.

What is the down judge in football?

The Down Judge is the officer in charge of fair play regulation. They always accompany the chain crew. Its position is situated close to the line of scrimmage, across from the press box. Together with the line judge, who is in the same position on the other sideline, the DJ is situated close to one sideline at the line of scrimmage. 

The down judge must keep an eye out for several mistakes as a play begins and progresses. They must concentrate on the vicinity of the line of scrimmage, a few yards in front of them, and the closest sideline.

In the event of any offsides, dead balls, or other pre-snap fouls, it must communicate to the referee. The player’s out-of-bounds and other near-the-sidelines activities are corrected by this referee.


What does a down judge do?

The down judge is in charge of controlling everything that happens at the line of scrimmage, including keeping an eye out for offsides, encroachments, and false starts. When it’s time to calculate the yardage gained on a play or get ready for a new set of downs, the DJ also gives the chain crew instructions.

The DJ is responsible for monitoring whether the ball carrier slips out of bounds when play shifts to the sideline and will determine where the ball carrier went out.

Besides, they are in charge of informing the referee of the current down, counting the number of offensive players present on the field, and keeping an eye out for illegitimate substitutions.

Roles of the football down judge

On run plays, a ball carrier’s forward motion must be marked by the down judge. On passing plays, they keep an eye on the defensive backs and receivers on his side of the field to look for pass interference.

For the first seven yards of their route, they must also keep an eye on the closest receiver until the route moves the receiver outside of the defensive backs’ legal zone of contact.

Some sideline plays can be incredibly controversial and completely alter a football game. Therefore, for a game to proceed properly, the down judge’s attention to the sideline is essential.

The line judge steps in after a play to determine how many yards a team gained and communicates it to the other officials. When necessary, they enter the field to measure a first down. He is also the representative in command of the chain crew.

Famous Down Judge In NFL

The NFL changed the title of the position from head linesman to down judge in 2017. Sarah Thomas was hired as the NFL’s first full-time female judge. Therefore, the league decided that it was vital to have a gender-neutral moniker.

When she was employed in 2015, she became the first woman to work as a full-time official for the NFL. She also made history in 2019 when she became the first female official of an NFL playoff game. She presided over the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots Divisional Round encounter.

Moreover, Thomas will create history one more this year as the Super Bowl LV down judge. It has been a historic season for women in American football. Because it had both Thomas’ long list of accomplishments and Sarah Fuller, the Vanderbilt kicker who this year became the first woman to play Division I collegiate football.

Final Thought

In a football game, the down judge has complete control. We are able to play and coach football in a regulated setting because of them. They control the game and guarantee that everyone complies with the regulations. Football games couldn’t be properly officiated without a DJ. Hope that with this article, you will know more about the down judge. Our website – Footballterms is packed with information regarding definitions, news, and more!

Let’s keep learning! 

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