Gene Steratore will be the referee heading the Super Bowl LII officiating team on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis. The assignments were officially given to the crew today, and this will be Steratore’s first Super Bowl assignment.
Steratore worked the Divisional Playoff game between the Saints and Vikings, which included a wild finish where Minnesota stole the lead with less than ten seconds remaining. Steratore is also a Division I college basketball official, and worked the University of Minnesota-Penn State basketball game the next day.
Officials in the Super Bowl must be ranked in the top tier as determined by the new senior vice-president of officiating, Al Riveron. Accuracy percentages are a large part of the ranking scheme, but there are other factors Riveron considers. Past practice has allowed officials who have not had a previous Super Bowl assignment, but are near the top rank at their positions, to receive preference.
Steratore, 54, is in his 15th season and 12th as referee. This is his 12th postseason assignment, including 3 Wild Card Playoffs, 6 Divisional Playoffs, and 2 Conference Championships. He will turn 55 four days after Super Bowl LI, on Feb. 8. Steratore lives in Washington, Pa., and co-owns a janitorial supply business with his brother, Tony, who is the back judge for the AFC Championship Game.
For Gene, it caps a season for which he will be remembered for the unorthodox use of his penalty card to verify a first down. While this was not prohibited, and was done on at least two prior occasions, Riveron said that foreign objects should not be used in this case going forward.
Steratore was profiled with his crew with an excellent week-in-the-life feature by Peter King of The MMQB in 2013.
The crew has five officials that have worked a Super Bowl before, which is the most since Super Bowl XXXVIII at the end of the 2003 season, when all seven had prior experience. Umpire Roy Ellison worked Super Bowl XLIII in the 2008 season; line judge Byron Boston was assigned to Super Bowls XXXIV (1999) and XLVII (2012); field judge Tom Hill officiated Super Bowls XL (2005) and XLIX (2014); side judge Scott Edwards officiated Super Bowl 50 two years ago; and back judge Perry Paganelli worked Super Bowl XLI (2006). The 7 combined prior Super Bowls is the most since, again, Super Bowl XXXVIII, which also totaled 7 (one each).
While this is Jerry Bergman’s first Super Bowl, his father, Jerry Sr., had 4 Super Bowls at the same position.
The Super Bowl crew is listed below, shown with the number of Wild Card Playoffs, Divisional Playoffs and Conference Championships worked in the last five seasons, and previous Super Bowl assignments:
|Yrs||2017 crew||College||Occupation||2012-2016||Prev. SB|
|R||114||Gene Steratore||15||Kent State||co-owner, supply company||1 WC, 2 DIV, 1 CC|
|U||81||Roy Ellison||15||Steratore||Savannah State||technical staff member||2 WC, 2 DIV†||XLIII|
|DJ||91||Jerry Bergman||16||McAulay||Robert Morris||sales executive||4 WC|
|LJ||18||Byron Boston||23||Anderson||Austin||tax consultant||1 WC, 1 DIV, 2 CC, SB||XXXIV, XLVII|
|FJ||97||Tom Hill||19||Allen||Carson Newman||teacher*||2 WC, 1 DIV, 2 CC, SB||XL, XLIX|
|SJ||3||Scott Edwards||19||Torbert||Alabama||environmental engineer||1 WC, 2 DIV, 2 CC, SB||50|
|BJ||46||Perry Paganelli||20||Parry||Hope College||retired high school administrator||3 WC, 2 CC||XLI|
*full-time official, †missed one year due to injury
- Replay: Paul Weidner
- Referee: Craig Wrolstad
- Umpire: Ruben Fowler
- Short wing: Ed Camp
- Deep wing: Jimmy Buchanan
- Back judge: Greg Steed
Image: Chad Young for Football Zebras/Diamond Images/Minnesota Vikings