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Vinovich appears to be a lock for Super Bowl nod


Football Zebras analysis

As reported earlier, each of the Super Bowl officials works a Divisional Playoff game to break up the month-long gap from the end of the regular season. Football Zebras has analyzed the assignments from the divisional round, and has determined the officials that have the best chance at a Super Bowl assignment.

No official has received his assignment yet for Super Bowl XLIX. But, with a high degree of confidence in the selections, these are the officials expected to get to the Super Bowl this year:

[Update: Confirmed assignments posted here.]

Yrs 2014 crew Divisional game
R 52 Bill Vinovich 10 Ravens-Patriots
U 49 Rich Hall 11 Hochuli Ravens-Patriots
HL 8 Dana McKenzie 7 Morelli Cowboys-Packers
LJ 9 Mark Perlman 14 Leavy Panthers-Seahawks
FJ 25 Bob Waggoner 18 Steratore Panthers-Seahawks
SJ 97 Tom Hill 16 Allen Cowboys-Packers
BJ 112 Tony Steratore 15 Boger Ravens-Patriots

Can these change as a result of the performance in the divisional games? It’s possible, but not very likely. There are two known instances where an official was   removed from a Super Bowl crew due to an incident in a playoff game:

Head linesman George Hayward was widely considered amongst his peers to be a shoo-in for Super Bowl XXXVII in the 2002 season. Hayward was on the crew that misapplied the rules on the final play of the Giants-49ers wild card game; although he was not responsible for the missed call, the league considered the rule misapplication a crew error.

Field judge John Robison was pulled from Super Bowl XXXII after a controversial call in the Vikings-Giants wild card game in the 1997 season. Confirmation of Robison’s revoked assignment came when the Super Bowl programs were printed with Robison’s name listed as the field judge.

There is an outside shot that the league bends some of the existing rules and procedures, but this seems to be the most plausible crew assignment for the big game.

[Update 1/9: I replaced the back judge with Tony Steratore, as the other one did not qualify for the Super Bowl based on past playoff experience; I had counted the wrong games that are part of that determination.]

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Ben Austro
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)

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40 thoughts on “Vinovich appears to be a lock for Super Bowl nod

  1. Vinovich Reffing the super Bowl is a really bad outcome. The guy is supposed to be the Referee, yet never overrides BAD decisions by other officials, does not make quick decisions and is known for swallowing his whistle on some obvious fouls, if he doesn’t “like ” that team, yet calls phantom penalties at other times. Him even getting a divison level palyoff game is a disservice to the fans.
    My only hope is that he has another ridiculous gaff this week so his true talent ( lack of) level is displayed. Steratore at least TRIES not to be biased.

  2. Amazing Waggoner could be there. Old, slow, and in last year’s NFC Champ. game was BEAT BAD to the goal line on the “bomeruski” pass by Balt. and on the critical measurement on that drive, instead of holding the ball still to the ground, he let it roll BEFORE the sticks were out. Perhaps his swan song?

  3. Peyton Manning has two more games to win before he has to worry about the Super Bowl.

    The quarterback vs. referee is a bunch of manufactured nonsense. A referee does not call downfield … ever. Besides, quarterbacks don’t win or lose games, the team does. More to a win in football than an arm and eight guys with caps and gloves.

  4. James, why would you call Ben an idiot, as he says it’s his opinion? Nothing he says is idiotic, all of it is factual.

  5. Ben, I think what Tim meant is that Vinovich is completely bias against the Manning family, at least against Peyton.

  6. Yeah if you’re gonna resort to calling someone names, then back it up with some facts.

    Anyway, I think it’s a disservice that Leavy is allowed to be in the running when there are better refs and since McAuley did last year’s big game then why not put him in one of the title games next week since his grading was high enough, so we have 4 refs with an honest shot for competition instead of the way it was done this year and now without a game played yet, we have a front runner (just like politics, smh)….

  7. Without an honest 4 way competition, what’s the incentive for a ref to perform his best in these important games? That really needs to change. Makes for complacency and lowers the integrity of the job….

  8. Dave, regardless of if you like them or not, these guys are ‘professional” officials. Each week they will want to be on the top of their game, they don’t need (or shouldn’t need) further incentive. If anything the pressure to compete for the big game is as likely to result in a mistake as it would to result in a better called game. Even at much lower levels most officials want to call a perfect game, the pay isn’t great it’s the love of football that makes them do it.

  9. I’m sorry? The “pay isn’t great”?

    For a part-time gig?

    For a meeting a day before and then 3 hours of work?


  10. Don’t forget that EVERYTHING is paid for: travel, hotels, uniforms, clinics, A PENSION PLAN(!) spring practices they attend, and per diems all for PART-TIME status. They make more in one game in their game fees than most people in this world do in YEARS of working for recyclable scrap metal, street entertaining, etc. THEN they all charge to go to NCAA clinics and camps. “Big ED” is making about $13,000 a GAME just for the game fee, plus everything else…not ONE NFL ref. is crying “poor,” and I know PLENTY of NCAA guys who are better than several current NFL guys.

  11. I believe the point was that the drive for perfection starts at the lower levels where the pay is not good. It’s a little extra pocket money, but if you were doing it for the money, it would be too much trouble.

    The NFL guys are unquestionably well compensated and have perks such as Sunday Ticket and gym memberships paid for. The pension is being phased out. As for part time, you would be shocked at the amount of work is involved for the part-time work these officials do. But, they made it to the highest levels (whether you agree that X official belongs in the NFL is immaterial) and deserve to be compensated based on the value they bring to the $9 billion enterprise.

  12. Dave C, if you look at who is left at Referee all of the likely candidates for the Conference Championship games have worked Super Bowls before (Anderson, Corrente and Parry). I guess if you wanted to make a 4 way competition in the Divisional Round with those games being the be all and end all then it would have been Vinovich, Steratore and 2 of Blakeman, Cheffers and Morelli working the Divisional Round. That being said, if Blakeman, Cheffers and Morelli were the last three to squeak into the playoffs I do not want to see one of them working the Super Bowl because they happened to have a better game this weekend than Vinovich and Steratore. Having two capable officials in Steratore and Vinovich is sufficient because if one falters you can give it to the other and if both have truly awful games reaching the level that have gotten officials bumped before (see Ben’s initial post) I am sure the NFL has a contingency plan in place

  13. Another point…its part time. So if they receive less as they work their way up the only thing that are sacrificing is time.

    The “value” that they bring should be not being noticed. That’s happening less and less.

  14. It is not because of them that the NFL is worth $9 billion. They happen to be reaping the benefits of that fact. I know how much time they put in, I somehow they can all find ways to have other jobs as well.

  15. bottom line; with a record breaking QB, that has legendary career win stats, 0-6 is a significant statistical outlier that deserves inquisition.

  16. Jerome is correct. Their “value” to the enterprise is no value, as they, for the most part, are not the best at their profession. A very few are, but the majority? No. Look at them. Many fat. More out of shape and can’t move athletically. Poor mechanics. Can’t see what is there to be seen. All the old clichés. There is no accountability for their mistakes. They screw up, and continue on in their part time job. Almost to a man, they become extremely arrogant, with no basis for it other than they were lucky enough to be related to a current or retired official or supervisor, or were “touched” by the right hand. I can remember getting sized for uniforms, and the tailors were in shock. Why? They said, “What did they do to you guys this season? Everyone has been so respectful and polite to us. What gives?” When queried further, these tailors stated that every time they are sizing guys for uniforms, they are treated with complete rudeness and disrespect, as if they were the official’s slaves to do their bidding. “You guys have been so nice, respectful, and appreciative towards us and what we are doing for you. We are not used to this.” The tailors had no idea there was an entire new crew getting custom fitted for their uniforms. I can’t really remember too many fat, out of shape guys either. When I torpedoed my college career, I was in superb physical condition. When the call came in May, even though I was in excellent shape for my 40s, I started the process to get into as good as shape as I was about 25 years earlier as a college athlete. We were instructed to arrive in shape, and I remember the many guys who did not cut the physical training in that 110 degree heat in Dallas, and were sent home. No way many of these current officials could pass the physical test we had to take. No way in hell. If they could, they wouldn’t be as fat and out of shape as many of them are now. As a whole, if the league wanted superior officials, all they would need to do was scour the unknowns/unrelated in the D1AA, D2 and D3 ranks, to find 17 crews of 7 superior officials. Require them to be full time. After training, these guys would perform so much better than the mistake laden officials we see on a weekly basis. If held accountable? They would perform even better – or sink out of the league. Until such time as the current hiring practices end, the best are not hired, and zero accountability exists, the ever longer parade of mistakes will continue. Until such time as this is made a full time profession, the ever longer parade of mistakes will continue. Some of you glad-handers on this site, who suck up to these guys, will never get it. The few of us who know the truth and performed better than many of the current officials on staff and in fact excelled at it? (Yes, excelled. Watch my crew’s seven mistake free games) It is truly unfair, and difficult to accept. We have been blackballed, and there is nothing we can do about it. But it was an incredible experience, knowing me and my 6 crew mates did it, did not make mistakes, and performed at a superior level under the big lights. Hell, we had to, or we’d be taken off the field, as many were as the season progressed. The bottom line is so long as the current hiring practices exist, and the union exists, all which breeds further incompetence, we will continue to have discussions about the terrible officiating product, as a general rule, we see on a weekly basis.

  17. ‘ ough said in that last post. Of the 117 today, I would say about 30-35 should be there based on how they look, move, and call the game at their respective positions.

  18. Gee, I would rank Vinovich last among these four.
    1) Steratore
    2) McAuley
    3) Leave
    4) Vinovich
    I guess that shows what I know

  19. For the record, in Super Bowl XXXIi the field judge (now back judge) who worked instead of John Robison was Don Dorkowski, who had worked a Conference Chapionship Game just two weeks earlier. I believe it’s the only time that an official has worked the two games the same season.

  20. Actually in the 1994-95 playoofs Bernie Kukar worked an AFC divisional playoff gamne the next week was the referee for the NFC championship and then 2 weeks later was the alternate for the superbowl.

  21. Vinovich is the worst Referee in the league. How on earth he even got a play off game let along looking like he’s gonna ref the superbowl is beyond me. His refereeing has been shocking this year.

  22. Does anyone on here know if the officials who get playoff games receive pay above and beyond their base pay?

  23. How did Vinovich score higher than Steratore? Not saying I disagree, but how did you predict this before it was released? Steratore has been there for the past few years, I would have expected to see him get the nod

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