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:
|1 DIV, 2 WC
|director, parts logistics and supply chain management
|2 CC, 1 DIV
|4 CC, 1 DIV
|1 CC, 2 DIV, 2 WC
|1 CC, 3 WC
|Johnson C Smith
|manager, law firm
|medical sales representative
|2 DIV, 2 WC
- Replay: Tom Sifferman
- 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