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Assignment Controversy

NFL denies playoff assignments set



Playoffs_10_rgbThe NFL is denying the Football report that the playoff assignments for the officials have already been decided.

“Postseason assignments have not yet been determined,” said NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora. “The evaluation and grading process continues for Week 17 games. Once that process has concluded, assignments for Wild Card games will be communicated to the officials and to the clubs.”

We reported Sunday that two former NFL officials have said that current officials became aware that Jerome Boger was assigned to the Super Bowl. Admittedly, only the officiating department has done a thorough analysis of every officials’ calls, but Boger does not seem to be the highest rated official this season. Combined with his scant postseason résumé, with no Conference Championship experience, Boger seemed to be a questionable choice.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated also has reported that Boger is slated for a Super Bowl slot based on the fact that Boger is the highest rated referee.

“All postseason assignments are based upon the individual performance of each official at their respective position, without regard to the cumulative performance of an entire crew,” continued Signora in an e-mail to us. “This system, as opposed to one that was based in part on crew performance that was in use from 2003-11, was suggested by the union in our recent negotiations as the best way to award postseason assignments, and we agreed.”

Even though the playoff assignments are not determined, it is not clear if the NFL, in fact, has Boger is “penciled in” for a Super Bowl assignment, as one former official has said. In a matter of speaking, both can be right, as pencils have erasers. But multiple sources have said that the officials are not happy with the rumored assignment, because they do not feel that the league is properly applying the grading criteria. But Signora disagrees.

“We look forward to having our best officials on the field throughout the playoffs.”

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)