Shawn Smith has been promoted to the referee position after the retirement of Terry McAulay, as announced by senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron. Smith was hired in 2015 and was hired initially as a field judge, but worked all three seasons at the umpire position, which is known to be a pipeline into becoming a referee. He worked on Jeff Triplette’s crew for his first two seasons, and worked last season under Ed Hochuli, pictured side-by-side above. His pairing with Hochuli was not a trivial move, as they obviously had Smith set for advancement and wanted to give him a strong mentor.
Smith has been assigned to work three postseason games, which include one Wild Card Playoff, one Divisional Playoff, and the 2017 NFC Championship Game. He was one of the officials who received two non-Super Bowl assignments last posteason, as he officiated both the Falcons-Rams Wild Card Playoff and the NFC Championship Game. Ineligible for the postseason in his first year by longstanding policy, Smith’s three postseason games come in the last two years. He will, again, be ineligible in his first year as referee, if the officiating department continues past practice.
Smith was given a tryout at the referee position in two games over the last two preseasons.
This will be the first time since 2014 when three officials don the NFL white hat for the first time; in that season, a late-June vacancy was also created when a referee left for television when Mike Carey was hired by CBS Sports.
Off the field, Smith is an internal auditor from Southfield, Mich. He got started as a flag football official at Eastern Michigan University. Smith was recruited to run track and play football at EMU before transferring to Ferris State University.
At the collegiate level, Smith officiated in Conference USA in 2009, the Mid-American Conference from 2009 to 2012 and the Big Ten Conference from 2012 to 2014. He worked at the back judge position during this time, and completed his first full season as a Big Ten referee in 2014, when the NFL came calling for the 2015 season. Smith worked the 2011 Armed Forces Bowl and the 2015 Senior Bowl while a college football official.