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Carl Cheffers is confirmed as referee for Super Bowl LI

Football Zebras  exclusive

Carl Cheffers  will be the referee heading the  Super Bowl LI  officiating staff on Feb. 5  in Houston. This was widely suspected, and the assignments were officially given to the crew today. This will be Cheffers’ first Super Bowl assignment.

Cheffers worked the  Divisional Playoff game between the Steelers and Chiefs, and he threw the flag for the holding call that nullified what would have been the Chiefs’ game-tying two-point conversion. Cheffers had four members of his Super Bowl crew with him in Kansas City; usually there are no more than three Super Bowl officials in the same game.

Officials in the Super Bowl must be ranked in the top tier as determined by the senior vice-president of officiating, Dean Blandino. Accuracy percentages are a large part of the ranking scheme, but Blandino indicated there are other factors he considers. Past practice has allowed officials who have not had a previous Super Bowl assignment, but are near the top rank at their positions, to receive preference.

Cheffers is in his 17th NFL season and his 9th as a referee. He  has worked 10 postseason assignments, including 4 Wild Card Playoffs, 4 Divisional Playoffs, and 2 Conference Championships.

The  crew has three officials that have worked a Super Bowl before — one in Super Bowl XLIV and two in XLV.

The Super Bowl crew is listed below, shown with the number of Wild Card Playoffs, Divisional Playoffs and Conference Championships worked in the last five seasons, and previous Super Bowl assignments:

         Yrs 2016 crew College Occupation 2011-2015 Prev. SB
R 51 Carl Cheffers 17    California-Irvine sales manager 1 DIV, 2 WC   
U 64 Dan Ferrell 14 Corrente Cal State-Fullerton director, parts logistics and supply chain management 2 CC, 1 DIV   
HL 79 Kent Payne 13 Cheffers Nebraska Wesleyan teacher 4 CC, 1 DIV XLV
LJ 45 Jeff Seeman 15 Parry Minnesota brokerage sales 1 CC,  2 DIV, 2 WC XLIV
FJ 67 Doug Rosenbaum 16 Morelli Illinois Wesleyan financial consultant 1 CC, 3 WC   XLV
SJ 109 Dyrol Prioleau 10 Triplette Johnson C Smith manager, law firm 1 CC   
BJ 30 Todd Prukop 8 Corrente Cal State-Fullerton medical sales representative 2 DIV, 2 WC   
  • Replay: Tom Sifferman
  • Alternates:
    • Referee: Walt Coleman
    • Umpire: Tony Michalek
    • Short wing: Mike Spanier
    • Deep wing: Michael Banks
    • Back judge: Greg Yette

Image: Football Zebras graphic by Chad Young, photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images Sport

From Football Zebras editor Ben Austro

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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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30 thoughts on “Carl Cheffers is confirmed as referee for Super Bowl LI

  1. That means John Parry and last year’s ref Clete Blakeman get NO playoff action? What’s up with that?

  2. Since 2013, Football Zebras has predicted (read:promoted) Gene Steratore for Super Bowl referee six times (you can check it…1/2/2013, 12/29/2013, 9/3/2014, 9/10/2015, 9/11/2016, 1/12/2017), never correctly, of course. Maybe you guys should do him a favor next season and leave him out. Then maybe he’d have a chance.

  3. Gene steratore won’t ever get the Super Bowl. They give it to one and dones. Steratore is obviously the most qualified (along with Hochuli; who worked one). So let’s just leave out the top tier and vote on the second.

  4. The choice of Cheffers was made before he officiated Sunday’s game. That call had nothing to do with the assignment. At some point, I would love to see the officials grading system. We are told that there is this system, so what does it look like? How are things like experience weighted? Do officials get the chance to evaluate each other and some say in who would be deserving? Clearly, post season performance is not a factor, this year at least. Is it ever a factor, or supposed to be considered?

  5. How come my man with a plan Gene Steratore never gets a super bowl? I think the NFL is dissing him and I don’t like it one bit

  6. What I meant by dissing him was I felt that he was blown off and the people at the NFL said screw you you do not deserve it and took the super bowl away from him

  7. I”m a Steratore fan (for no particular reason except that I read a nice article on him a while back–seems like a hardworking guy), and I hope he gets to the SB soon. That said, it’s always great to see a deserving ref get their first “big one.” It’s also fun to find out how many other referee dorks there are in the world. Thanks, Ben and everyone for putting this site together–it’s a great way to feel a part of this exciting world.

  8. This dirtbag is obviously a Chargers fan. That was NOT a holding call! If it was, then why did he miss it on every other snap by BOTH teams throughout the game? The NFL is a joke! It all comes down to TV ratings now! Gotta have “Stealers”, Patroids matchup for AFC crown right?
    I’ve been watching this game since Super Bowl Five and it is nowhere near the great game it used to be! Thanks to Ahole officials like Carl & Co.

  9. How much money did you lose Terry??? WOW.. I had NO SKIN IN THE GAME.. Bills fan, ( we don’t know what playoffs are!!), but that was a 100% holding penalty, were there others missed probably, to say on every play, that is plain wrong.. Not a huge Cheffers fan, would have loved to see Gene get it.. But he got the call, curious if you are a KC fan, any thought on Don Denkinger’s call in Game 6 85 WS.. ?? That call may have cost the Cards the WS.. Sorry, Brady, Rothlisberger, Ryan, Rodgers.. we don’t need Alex Smith getting in the way this weekend…LOL

  10. Is Blakeman injured he did not receive an alternate assignment in any round? The alternates for the Super Bowl did not get an on field assignment in the earlier rounds as well. Meaning if 5 officials get hurt during the game the spots would be filled by the 12th rated official from the year.Sounds like a set up for disaster not having the 2nd rated officials for alternates in the big game.

  11. Congrats to Cheffers. That penalty he called in the Chiefs game – against the home team – is a the kind of game changing call that other officials would be hesitant to make in an effort to avoid being the “story” of the game.

  12. Slightly off-topic, but how big of a deal is it that Coleman got the alternate referee spot? I recall that he was one that y’all predicted to get the on-field spot before the playoffs began. Does it speak highly of his marks this season to be in that position, even though he likely won’t see game action?

  13. Tom,
    clete missed a text book illegal batting call in super bowl 50 because he was too antsy and was out of position. Horrible miss.


  14. All,
    Gene will never get a super bowl. His reinterpretation of rule book on calvin and dez plays is all his ego. So much so that he was so crazy about it he called dez play in green bay incomplete without clear evidence ball?hit ground hence re emphasis on indisputable evidence following season.


  15. Gene must have a basketball game on Super Sunday and will make more money, how much does the sub pay a ref?

  16. Hi there Ben,

    Could you tell me where you obtained the Super Bowl logo in 3D? If not, I would be very grateful if you could send it to me by e-mail.


  17. The fascination of Gene Steratore here is disheartening. He should never be considered for the Super Bowl quite simply because he isn’t very good. Like him or not, there is no doubt he is very egotistical.

  18. The reason I believe Gene Steratore didn’t get job is because of what happen Week 1 Game 1 between the rematch of the Panthers and Broncos. Where the Bronco’s Defense made illegal hits and Gene Steratore and crew didn’t throw the flag for them.

    That’s what hur Gene Steratore the most

  19. Sarah thomas should have at least gotten a wild card game maybe she will next year if some of the old blind over 75 year-old officials like walt anderson and pete morelli will retire

  20. I think Sarah Thomas still has to meet the requirements of being in the NFL Referee to do playoffs.
    5 years of NFL experience
    Postseason experience of either:
    1 career conference championship game
    3 playoff games in the previous 5 years

    She is only starting her 2 year (2015 was her first)

  21. There were other officials getting wild card games in only there second year the five years is for getting a super bowl

  22. Way to go me carl cheffers so proud of lots of love from Rudy and Angelita members from the boys and girls club of Whittier

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