Washington, who played 12 seasons in the league including six for the Steelers, has remained a fan since his playing days ended. Now he is looking to take it to another level.
Washington will be among 11 former and one current NFL players taking part in the Tom Beard Football Officials Clinic in Baltimore this week. And Washington isn’t going just for the fun of it. He has a genuine interest in pursuing a career as an official at some level.
“There is no doubt I am a true fan of the game,” said Washington. “That is where my passion lies. I know I wanted to get back close to it at some point in time and hopefully this is the right time. I’ve had an interest in it for a while. Even back when I was playing I went to an officiating school in Tampa, dabbled in it and looked at it from afar. When I got an email last year about this clinic, I thought it would be a good chance to give it a harder look.
“I really want to see if this is the road I want to go down. I know I won’t start in the NFL, more in high school or college. I want to come out of it this week and know if this is something I want to have as a second career for myself. If all goes well, I am at a point I want to pursue it.”
The clinic, which is offered to players by NFL Player Engagement and the NFL Football Officiating Academy, will include classroom and on-field instruction, conducted by current and former officials at all levels.
“There are a lot of intricacies to officiating,” said Washington. “That is what I am hoping to pick up this week. We are going to see exactly what they are doing on a play in, play out basis. The one I went to in Tampa was a precursor. There is more to it than meets the eye.”
Washington, who owns D. Washington Group, a construction company in Durham, North Carolina, encourages today’s players and former players to take advantage of opportunities like this one the NFL offers. He knows the experience and lessons learned can be invaluable.
“When I was playing I took advantage of the program they offered at the Wharton School of Business,” said Washington. “That opened my eyes to a lot of different things from a business perspective. You need to take a sneak peek at what you want to might dabble in when the playing days are done.”
Washington feels those taking part in the clinic would definitely have the skills to be officials, knowing the game inside and out from their playing days.
“I think I am ready for it,” said Washington. “Former players will make good referees. Not to say other people who didn’t play the game won’t, but I think I will know what to look for, especially when it comes to those pass interference calls. I think I can be unbiased in the decisions that need to be made, especially at the pace they need to be made.
“I think it’s a natural fit. At least that is what I feel going into it. There is a lot from my 25 years of playing football that should fit and shouldn’t make it a tough transition at all.”
And the most important fit might simply be keeping him involved in the game he loves.
“You are close to the game without being in the game,” said Washington. “You are in between the white lines and that gives you that rush you had when you were a player.”
Tags: Dewayne Washington
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