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NFL names Carl Johnson new VP of refs



The NFL, after a long search plagued with false starts, has named line judge Carl Johnson as vice president of officiating. He officiated on Don Carey’s crew and will take over for the retiring Mike Pereira after the Super Bowl.

Outside of his appointment to Super Bowl XLII (as part of the crew headed by Mike Carey, Don’s brother), Johnson is not a household name. That is not by accident; to be known is to be analyzed for questionable calls. The league specifically cited Johnson’s high ratings in the weekly evaluations every official is subject to.

Johnson will be thrust into a league executive position that is more visible (and under heavier public scrutiny) than anyone else, even the commissioner. The position includes not only being highly analytical of the rules, but also be able to address a weekly television audience on NFL Total Access on the NFL Network.

Periera was a side judge for Mike Carey’s crew in 1996 and 1997, before being promoted to the league office and eventually to the department’s vice president in 2001. (Periera also officiated a Week 1 game in 2001 due to an official’s strike.) By contrast, Johnson has been on the field since 2001.

Prior to Periera, the previous two department heads (which was not vice-president level until Pereira) both served as the head referee on the field.

The press release from the NFL:

CARL JOHNSON, one of the NFL’s highest-rated officials who has worked eight postseason games since joining the league in 2001, has been named NFL vice president of officiating.

Johnson will take over leadership of the NFL Officiating Department this year from MIKE PEREIRA, who is retiring in April after nine years in the position.

Johnson has been an NFL line judge since 2001. He officiated in Super Bowl XLII (Giants-Patriots), four divisional playoff games including this year’s Dallas-Minnesota game, two wild card playoff games, and one Pro Bowl. Pereira was an NFL side judge when he joined the officiating department as a supervisor in 1998 and then replaced JERRY SEEMAN as the head of NFL officiating in 2001.

Johnson, a native of Thibodaux, Louisiana, officiated high school football in Thibodaux from 1982-1993. He then became a head linesman and line judge in the Southland Conference in 1994 and 1995. From 1996-2000, he officiated as a head linesman in the Big XII Conference and worked the 1996 and 1997 Sugar Bowl games, the 1998 Rose Bowl, and the 1999 Big XII Championship Game.

“Carl Johnson is highly respected both by his on-field and off-field officiating colleagues for his stellar body of work and his integrity,” said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations RAY ANDERSON. “His teamwork-first philosophy and his excellent communication skills will provide terrific leadership to our officiating department.”

In addition to his on-field officiating expertise, Johnson has 30 years of business management experience. This has included training and managing a large sales force for a major company in Louisiana. He has overseen staff hiring, performance reviews, promotions, discipline, and terminations, and has conducted numerous meetings and coaching initiatives to improve the performance of his staff.

“Carl’s skill set is an outstanding match for this position and we look forward to his leadership in this critical area of our operations,” Anderson added.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)