What exactly will full-time NFL referees do during the offseason? I feel dumb for asking that, but I'm drawing a blank.
The same thing they do currently, presumably. A lot of people don't realize just how much work it takes to get, and keep, an NFL officiating position.
If you're absolutely, ridiculously hot shit, and by that I mean the absolute best the world's ever seen, you could probably
make it to the NFL about 15 years or so after working your first high school game ... and that's if
you get lucky to have an obscenely accepting / patient employer right away, and move quickly up the ladder at work so you have enough seniority by the time shit gets serious, and
you're using up all your spare time / vacation time networking and going to clinics and doing rules study and training videos, and God help you if you ever suffer an injury.
(As an example, Ed Hochuli started calling football in 1970 and got hired by the NFL in 1990; Mike Carey started in 1972 and got to the NFL in 1995.)
Once you step up from NCAA entry-level, you need to have a an assload of spare time: Two evenings a week (at least) for film and crew review (more for Division I-A and referees in general). You're gone all Saturday at the very least, sometimes you'll be leaving Friday evening and getting home Sunday afternoon. You're still looking to go to every clinic you can afford, and if you have a brain, you start going to clinics as an instructor, as well as a trainee (creating another thing that has to be planned and prepared for). You have to start doing fitness work to keep yourself fast and strong enough to be able to give 100 percent effort after three hours. That all eats up your off-season time. Then, a lot of people call arena football as an extra way to demonstrate their commitment / get experience at another positions / have as much game tape as possible to show supervisors. And after 20 - 25 years of that, you might
get a call from the NFL to work as an umpire or a back judge.
It's not as balls-to-the-wall intense as, say, baseball, where you basically spend nine months on the road living out of a suitcase and three months preparing for the next nine, but it certainly means that football is going to be your main priority outside work and out of season.