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5 Super Bowl officiating odds and ends

Let’s dig down into the Super Bowl LV crew and see how it stacks up historically to Super Bowl officials.

1. Roster history

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In the 101-year history of the NFL, more than 1,100 people have officiated at least one NFL game.

In 55 Super Bowls, there have been 366 officiating slots open. 206 men have called a Super Bowl. This year, the 207th official is the first woman to officiate the big game.

2. This is a veteran crew

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Since Super Bowl XXXIV in January of 2000, this is only the seventh time more than half of the crew has officiated a previous Super Bowl. Carl Cheffers’ crew has five Super Bowl veterans, while field judge James Coleman and down judge Sarah Thomas call their first.

Here are the other most experienced crews since the 2000 season:

  • (all 7 crew members with prior Super Bowl experience) Super Bowl XXXVIII, headed by Ed Hochuli, Super Bowl (XII, 6 officials, the year before the side judge was added).
  • (6) Super Bowl LIV, headed by Bill Vinovich.
  • (5) Super Bowl XXXIV, headed by Bob McElwee, including the record fifth Super Bowl for umpire Ron Botchan and field judge Al Jury.
  • (5) Super Bowl LII, headed by Gene Steratore.
  • (4) Super Bowl XLVI, headed by John Parry.
  • (4) Super Bowl LIII, headed by Parry.

The last four Super Bowls have had four or more crew members with prior Super Bowl experience. So, it appears a trend is developing where the NFL wants most of the crew with prior Super Bowl experience.

The fewest in that span was 1 experienced official, which happened 4 times, most recently with Super Bowl XLVII. The only times there were shutouts of prior experience were Super Bowls I (naturally), II, and IV.

3. No long Super Bowl layoffs

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  • Carl Cheffers worked his last Super Bowl four seasons ago (LI).
  • Fred Bryan will work his second Super Bowl in three years (LIII).
  • Rusty Baynes worked his last Super Bowl five years ago (50).
  • Eugene Hall will work his second Super Bowl in three years (LIII).
  • Dino Paganelli worked his last Super Bowl seven years ago (XLVII).

But, those gaps are no where near the record gap in Super Bowl assignments held by Jeff Bergman. The veteran had a 22-year gap between Super Bowl XXXI and Super Bowl LIII.

4. Hall’s career off to a fast start

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Eugene Hall first worked the Super Bowl in his fifth year in the league – his first year eligible to work a Super Bowl. This year, he works his second big game in his seventh year.

No other official has called two Super Bowls in their first seven seasons. The only other official with a similar fast start is retired side judge Laird Hayes who worked Super Bowl XXXVI and Super Bowl XXXVIII in his seventh and ninth seasons, respectively.

5. Inside the numbers

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James Coleman calls his first Super Bowl on Sunday. His jersey number is 95. This is the first time an official numbered 95 has called a Super Bowl since Bob McElwee called Super Bowl XXXIV.

Not counting the 1979-81 numbering system, here are the number of times this year’s crew number has been worn in a Super Bowl:

  • Number 51 has been worn six times in a Super Bowl (Lou Palazzi, Dale Orem and Cheffers).
  • Number 11 has been worn three times (John McDonough and Bryan).
  • Number 53 has been worn three times (Bill Reynolds, Garth DeFelice and Thomas).
  • Number 59 has been worn six times (Bob Beeks [two of his were during 1979-81], Phil Luckett and Baynes).
  • Number 95 has been worn four times (McElwee and Coleman).
  • Number 103 has been worn twice (Hall).
  • Number 105 has been worn five times (Dick Hantak and Paganelli).

Two officials (Hall and Paganeli) have a triple digit number on their shirt this year.

The record for the number of officials with 100 or more on their jerseys are five from Super Bowl XLVI:

  • John Parry, 132
  • Carl Paganelli, 124
  • Gary Arthur, 108
  • Laird Hayes, 125
  • Tony Steratore, 112

The first official to wear a jersey over number 100 in a Super Bowl was Dick Hantak as a back judge (now field judge) in Super Bowl XVII.

The last Super Bowl that didn’t have at least one on-field official with a triple-digit jersey number was Super Bowl XLIV.

There has never been a Super Bowl where all the officials wore triple digits.

The highest number worn is the highest number ever on an officiating roster (not including officials in training or replacements), number 135 by the retired Pete Morelli who worked Super Bowl XXXVI between the Rams and the Patriots as a field judge.

The lowest number worn is number 3 by deep wing Scott Edwards in Super Bowl 50 and LII.

Discounting the special numbers for Super Bowls I and II, and discounting the 1979 numbering system, the numbers worn the most times in the Super Bowl are:

  • 34 – eight times
  • 9 and 25 – seven times
  • 32, 51, 59, 77 and 106 – six times
  • 22, 28, 39, 41, 78, 93, 105 and 110 – five times

And, discounting the above numbering systems, the following numbers have never been worn by an official in a Super Bowl:

  • 1
  • 2
  • 13
  • 37
  • 65
  • 68
  • 69 (never been issued to an official)
  • 102
  • 119
  • 123
  • 130
  • 131

Once again, yes, I’m that much of a nerd.

Have a great time zebra watching the final game of the year!

Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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One thought on “5 Super Bowl officiating odds and ends

  1. Great stuff. Why has 69 never been issed? Are there any numbers retired amongst NFL officials?

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