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Ref gets rematch of his ‘XL’ mistakes



Rarely does an assignment of a referee get a post of its own. The elements of irony either missed or intentionally ignored by the officiating department elevates one particular assignment to newsworthy status.

Bill Leavy, the referee in Super Bowl XL (2005 season) between the Steelers and the Seahawks, will officiate Sunday’s game between the Steelers and the Seahawks. The city of Seattle felt victimized by several bad calls, which is nothing new for the homers of a team losing the Big Game in any sport.

Except for this twist: Leavy publicly admitted to the Seahawks last year that his officiating in that game was not up to championship standards:

It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game, and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights, and I think about it constantly. I’ll go to my grave wishing that I’d been better … I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn’t good enough … When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It’s something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it’s difficult.

The admission notwithstanding, Danny O’Neil of The Seattle Times took to Twitter to get readers’ reaction to the assignment. While the city remains “officially offended,” Leavy is still no better than a runner-up for Seattle’s Worst; that honor appears to be reserved for Clayton Bennett, the owner who moved the NBA’s SuperSonics from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008. In another dose of bitter irony to the city, Bennett was named chairman of the NBA relocation committee this year.

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)