Last week, Football Zebras broke the news of the seven men selected to officiate Super Bowl LIV to conclude the centennial season of the NFL. This crew will be making history on Feb. 2 in Miami, as the Super Bowl crew will be the first majority African-American officiating crew in Super Bowl history.
Entering the Super Bowl only three games — any regular season or postseason game — have had a majority African-American crew of officials. Super Bowl LIV will be the first game in league history to have five African-American officials on the field.
This was not an exercise in making history, as these five officials already have a combined five Super Bowl rings of their own.
“Super Bowl officiating assignments are determined after reviewing every play of every game, and only those meeting the highest performance standards are considered,” said Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations. “These officials are the very best in the world with exemplary on-field performance, leadership and excellence that far exceeds the established criteria, and truly demonstrates the power of diversity and inclusion in this great game.”
Umpire Barry Anderson is a builder/developer from Atlanta and is working his first Super Bowl. Having started his NFL career as a deep official, Anderson was transitioned to the umpire position for a potential promotion to referee. While his white hat has not come, he is still considered one of the top officials in the pipeline for future vacancies. In the meantime, he has really hit his stride in his new position, receiving four playoff assignments in the five years as an umpire. Anderson was one of the designated full-time officials in 2017, which entailed additional officiating support work during the offseason.
Line judge Carl Johnson resides in Thibodaux, La., who many will remember as the NFL vice president of officiating from 2010 to 2012. Succeeding Mike Pereira in the top post in the officiating department, Johnson was hired for his strong rules knowledge. Ultimately, the position demanded that he be away from his family too much, and so the league transitioned him back onto the field as their first full-time official.
Field judge Michael Banks is a carpenter foreman from University Park, Ill. Before being hired by the NFL in 2002, Banks was a deep wing official in the original XFL during its sole 2001 season. This season was his first at the field judge position, having worked as a side judge for 17 seasons. This will be his third appearance at a Super Bowl in the last four seasons, having worked as an alternate in Super Bowls LI and LIII.
Side judge Boris Cheek (pictured above) lives in Charlotte, N.C., and is a director of operations and management. One of the most well-respected officials in the game, Cheek has been described as a mentor to younger officials who have just joined the professional ranks. In addition to his 24 seasons of NFL experience, Cheek was a field judge in the Canadian Football League for two seasons in the 1990s. In the 2017 and 2018 seasons, he was designated a full-time official.
Back judge Greg Steed is a computer systems analyst from Mitchville, Md. Steed is a United States Marine Corps veteran who served during the Persian Gulf War. Like Banks, Steed also officiated in the original XFL in 2001, two years before his hiring by the NFL prior to the 2003 season. In addition to working in the NFL Europe league in 2003, Steed was also one of the NFL’s full-time officials in 2017 and 2018.
Out of the approximately 1,100 officials who have worked throughout the league’s 100-year history, there have only been 74 black officials, and 35 of those 74 were active officials in the 2019 season. Head linesman Burl Toler broke the pro sports officiating color barrier when he was hired by the NFL in 1965. Head linesman Leo Miles was the first African-American official to officiate a Super Bowl, in Super Bowl VIII following the 1973 season.
Below is a full list of all 73 African-American on-field officials in league history.
|Yrs||Hired||College||Playoff assignments||Super Bowl assignments|
|HL||37||Burl Toler||25||1965||San Francisco||1 WC, 7 DIV, 3 CC||XIV|
|LJ||65||Aaron Wade||8†||1966||Los Angeles State||1 DIV, 1 CC|
|LJ||59||Bob Beeks||22||1968||Lincoln||5 WC, 10 DIV, 3 CC||XIV, XVI, XVIII, XXI, XXIII|
|HL||35||Leo Miles||22||1969||Virginia State||3 WC, 4 DIV, 5 CC||VIII, X, XIX|
|HL||85||Frank Glover||17||1972||Morris Brown||2 WC, 3 DIV|
|LJ||64||John Hanson||1||1974||Fort Valley State|
|SJ||97||Nate Jones||22||1977||Lewis & Clark||4 WC, 3 DIV, 2 CC||XXVIII|
|FJ||106||Al Jury||28||1978||San Bernardino Valley JC||3 WC, 8 DIV, 5 CC||XX, XXII, XXIV, XXVIII, XXXIV|
|SJ||62||Willie Spencer||4||1978||Prairie View A&M|
|LJ||45||Ron DeSouza||11||1980||Morgan State||2 WC, 1 DIV, 2 CC|
|LJ||4||Wilson Gosier||4||1980||Fort Valley State|
|R||23||Johnny Grier||24||1991||University of D.C.||2 WC, 9 DIV, 3 CC||XXII|
|LJ||117||Ben Montgomery||22||1982||Morehouse||8 WC, 4 DIV, 3 CC||XXXII, XXXVIII|
|LJ||56||Carver Shannon||3||1983||Southern Illinois|
|LJ||112||Joe Haynes||9||1984||Alcorn State||1 WC, 1 DIV|
|HL||79||Aaron Pointer||17||1987||Pacific Lutheran||2 WC, 3 DIV|
|HL||121||Sanford Rivers||17||1989||Youngstown State||2 WC, 3 DIV, 1 CC||XXXIII|
|R||94||Mike Carey||24||1990||Santa Clara||10 WC, 5 DIV, 2 CC||XLII|
|LJ||37||Larry Upson||7||1991||Prince George CC||1 WC, 1 DIV, 1 CC|
|U||31||Chad Brown||23||1992||Texas A&M-Commerce||7 WC, 4 DIV, 2 CC||XXXV, XLV|
|LJ||62||Charles Stewart||18||1992||Long Beach State||4 WC, 4 DIV|
|U||74||Jim Duke||10||1993||Howard||1 WC|
|BJ||83||Richard Reels||20||1993||(none)||5 WC, 5 DIV, 1 CC|
|LJ||18||Byron Boston||25*||1995||Austin||5 WC, 7 DIV, 10 CC||XXXIV, XLVII, LII|
|BJ||126||Don Carey||19||1995||California-Riverside||1 WC, 6 DIV||XXXVII|
|SJ||89||Neely Dunn||6||1995||South Carolina State||2 WC, 3 CC|
|SJ||41||Boris Cheek||24*||1996||Morgan State||6 WC, 5 DIV, 2 CC||XLII, 50, LIV|
|FJ||102||Keven Mack||5||1997||Fort Valley State||1 WC|
|LJ||130||Darryll Lewis||17||1998||Dartmouth||2 WC, 3 DIV|
|HL||43||James Wilson||8||1998||Eastern Kentucky||1 WC, 2 DIV|
|FJ||82||Buddy Horton||19||1999||Oregon State||6 WC, 4 DIV, 1 CC|
|U||96||Undrey Wash||17||2000||Texas-Arlington||2 WC, 6 DIV, 2 CC||XLIV|
|LJ||101||Carl Johnson||18*||2001||Nicholls State||3 WC, 7 DIV, 2 CC||XLII, LIV|
|FJ||72||Michael Banks||18*||2002||Illinois State||4 WC, 5 DIV||XLIII, LIV|
|U||76||Darrell Jenkins||13||2002||San Jose State||2 WC, 4 DIV||XLVII|
|DJ||110||Phil McKinnely||18*||2002||UCLA||5 WC, 3 DIV|
|U||81||Roy Ellison||17*||2003||Savannah State||3 WC, 4 DIV, 4 CC||XLIII, LII|
|BJ||12||Greg Steed||17*||2003||Howard||4 WC, 2 DIV, 2 CC||XLIV, LIV|
|R||23||Jerome Boger||16*||2004||Morehouse||4 DIV||XLVII|
|LJ||100||Tom Symonette||16*||2004||Florida||5 WC, 3 DIV, 1 CC||XLVIII|
|SJ||95||James Coleman||15*||2005||Arkansas||2 WC, 4 DIV|
|FJ||43||Terry Brown||14*||2006||Tennessee-Knoxville||4 WC, 2 DIV, 1 CC|
|U||71||Ruben Fowler||14*||2006||Houston-Tillotson||2 WC, 4 DIV, 2 CC|
|U||20||Barry Anderson||13*||2007||North Carolina State||3 WC, 5 DIV||LIV|
|HL||106||Wayne Mackie||10||2007||Colgate||5 DIV, 2 CC||50|
|FJ||109||Dyrol Prioleau||13*||2007||Johnson C. Smith||1 WC, 2 DIV, 3 CC||LI|
|SJ||7||Keith Washington||12*||2008||Virginia Military Institute||1 WC, 3 DIV|
|LJ||98||Greg Bradley||11*||2009||Tennessee||1 WC|
|U||11||Fred Bryan||11*||2009||Northern Iowa||3 WC, 2 DIV, 1 CC||LIII|
|SJ||86||Jimmy Buchanan||11*||2009||South Carolina State||3 WC|
|LJ||10||Julian Mapp||11*||2009||Grambling State||2 WC, 2 DIV, 1 CC|
|BJ||111||Terrence Miles||11*||2009||Arizona State||3 WC, 3 DIV, 2 CC||XLIX, LIII|
|R||29||Adrian Hill||10*||2010||Buffalo||2 WC, 1 DIV|
|R||62||Ron Torbert||10*||2010||Michigan State||3 WC, 4 DIV|
|BJ||38||Greg Yette||10*||2010||Howard||1 DIV|
|SJ||104||Dale Shaw||7*||2013||Allegheny||3 DIV|
|SJ||103||Eugene Hall||6*||2014||North Texas||3 WC, 2 DIV, 2 CC||LIII|
|FJ||117||John Jenkins||6*||2014||St. Mary’s||1 DIV|
|DJ||13||Patrick Turner||6*||2014||Cal State-Long Beach||2 WC, 1 DIV, 1 CC|
|DJ||123||Ed Walker||4||2014||San Jose State|
|R||14||Shawn Smith||5*||2015||Ferris State||2 WC, 1 DIV, 1 CC|
|SJ||26||Jabir Walker||5*||2015||Murray State|
|U||128||Ramon George||4*||2016||Lenoir-Rhyne||1 WC, 1 DIV|
|FJ||31||Mearl Robinson||3*||2017||Air Force||1 DIV|
|FJ||36||Anthony Jeffries||2*||2018||Alabama-Birmingham||1 DIV|
|DJ||106||Patrick Holt||1*||2019||North Carolina State|
|U||77||Terry Killens||1*||2019||Penn State|
* active official in the 2019 season.
† hired by the AFL, joined NFL post-merger.