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Steratore, Morelli, Cheffers, Corrente are Divisional Playoff referees

Football Zebras has confirmed the officiating crews for the Divisional Playoffs. Officials are listed with their uniform number, years of NFL experience (including this season), the crew each official worked with in the regular season (by the referee’s name), college, and outside occupation.

All times are Eastern.

Three alternates are assigned to each game: generally, one is designated for the offensive backfield (a referee or umpire), one is on the line of scrimmage (head linesman or line judge), and one is a deep position (side judge, field judge, or back judge). When alternates are listed, their position during the regular season is also given. The prior playoff experience that is listed for the crew chief includes his service as an NFL official, including as referee and any other crew position (excluding alternate assignments).  

Also of note, the eventual Super Bowl officials are working this weekend’s games, but not all are from the same crew.

Saturday, Jan.  14

Seahawks  at Falcons, 4:35  p.m. FOX  

The Seahawks and Falcons have Gene Steratore as their referee. Steratore is in his 14th season  and 11th as referee. This is his 10th postseason assignment, including 3  Wild Card Playoffs, 5 Divisional Playoffs, and 2 Conference Championships.

         Yrs 2016 crew College Occupation
R 114 Gene Steratore 14    Kent State co-owner, supply company
U 129 Bill Schuster 17 Steratore Alfred insurance broker
HL 110 Phil McKinnely 15 Vinovich UCLA inventory control
LJ 8 Dana McKenzie 9 Boger Toledo claims adjuster
FJ 50 Aaron Santi 2 Torbert Southern Oregon middle school principal
SJ 1 Scott Novak 3 Cheffers Phoenix sales manager
BJ 105 Dino Paganelli 11 Steratore Aquinas College educator
  • Replay:  Darryll Lewis
  • Alternates: Ruben Fowler  (U), Ron Marinucci  (LJ), Lee Dyer (BJ)

Texans at Patriots, 8:15  p.m. CBS

In New England, Pete Morelli, who is in his 20th season and 15th as referee, will head the crew for the Texans and Patriots. This is Morelli’s 16th postseason assignment, including 7 Wild Card Playoffs, 6  Divisional Playoffs, 2 Conference Championships, and Super Bowl XXXVI. His Super Bowl assignment was as a field judge.

         Yrs 2016 crew College Occupation
R 135 Pete Morelli 20    St. Mary’s high school principal
U 14 Shawn Smith 2 Triplette Ferris State internal auditor
HL 79 Kent Payne 13 Cheffers Nebraska Wesleyan teacher
LJ 47 Tim Podraza 9 Cheffers Nebraska corporate real estate
FJ 88 Brad Freeman 3 Cheffers Mississippi State sports park director
SJ 109 Dyrol Prioleau 10 Triplette Johnson C Smith manager, law firm
BJ 61 Keith Ferguson 17 Hussey San Jose State sales
  • Replay:  Tommy Moore
  • Alternates: Walt Coleman  (R), John McGrath (HL), Terrence Miles  (BJ)

Sunday, Jan. 15

Steelers  at Chiefs, 8:20 p.m. NBC  

NOTE:  Kickoff time moved from the early afternoon slot due to the forecast of an ice storm that may affect travel to the game.

Carl Cheffers is the referee for the Steelers-Chiefs game; he is in his 17th season  and 9th as referee. This is Cheffers’ 10th postseason assignment, including 4 Wild Card Playoffs, 4  Divisional Playoffs, and 2 Conference Championships.

         Yrs 2016 crew College Occupation
R 51 Carl Cheffers 17    California-Irvine high school principal
U 64 Dan Ferrell 14 Corrente Cal State-Fullerton internal auditor
HL 22 Steve Stelljes 15 Morelli Friends teacher
LJ 45 Jeff Seeman 15 Parry Minnesota corporate real estate
FJ 67 Doug Rosenbaum 16 Morelli Illinois Wesleyan sports park director
SJ 7 Keith Washington 9 Parry Virginia Military Institute manager, law firm
BJ 30 Todd Prukop 8 Corrente Cal State-Fullerton sales
  • Replay:  Tom Sifferman
  • Alternates: John Hussey  (R), Kevin Codey  (LJ), Dale Shaw  (FJ)

Packers  at Cowboys, 4:40 p.m. FOX

For the rematch of the 2014 Divisional game, Tony Corrente is the referee. This is his 22nd season and 19th as referee. This is Corrente’s 16th postseason assignment, including 5 Wild Card Playoffs, 5  Divisional Playoffs, 5 Conference Championships, and Super Bowl XLI.

         Yrs 2016 crew College Occupation
R 99 Tony Corrente 22    Cal State-Fullerton retired educator
U 102 Bruce Stritesky 11 Vinovich Embry Riddle airline pilot
HL 32 Jeff Bergman 25 Triplette Robert Morris president and chief executive officer, medical services
LJ 2 Bart Longson 2 Corrente Brigham Young co-founder and CEO, digital finance company
FJ 82 Buddy Horton 18 Corrente Oregon  State water service worker
SJ 75 Rob Vernatchi 13 Corrente California-Riverside enforcement investigator
BJ 133 Steve Freeman 16 Triplette Mississippi  State custom home builder
  • Replay:  Carl Madsen
  • Alternates: John Parry (R), Gary Arthur (LJ), Dave Meslow (SJ)
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Cameron Filipe
Cam Filipe is a graduate student at Boston University and has been involved in football officiating for ten years. Cam is in his second season as a high school football official. This is his seventh season covering NFL officiating for Football Zebras.

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37 thoughts on “Steratore, Morelli, Cheffers, Corrente are Divisional Playoff referees

  1. I don’t see how Pete Morelli is a potential Superbowl referee. My guess will be either Gene Steratore or Carl Cheffers as the SB referee

  2. Rooting for Gene.. Carl Cheffers is goofy, seen a few of his games in the past get away from him, Corrente is solid.. Morrelli is horrible.. Wonder if that was Big Ed’s swan song, he made a great no whistle on the Manning fumble/ pass..

  3. God Help Us….. if egotistical, incompetent Steratore is the Super Bowl referee. I group him with Mcauley as referees who need to move on. Jack ass Steratore can work all the Big Ten basketball games he desires!

  4. I’m with you on Steratore, but McAulay isn’t really that bad. He sometimes struggles with breaking up fights and is a little on the forgiving side when it comes to throwing flags, but he has good eyesight, great knowledge of the rulebook, and completely unbiased. The only game he officiated badly (that I can remember) is the first Beckham-Norman showdown, and that was mostly the players’ fault for starting so many fights in the first place.

  5. For the past five years, the referee who ultimately got the Super Bowl was a referee for one of the Saturday divisional games:

    2012: Parry (Saints-49ers Divisional – 1st on Saturday, Giants-Patriots SB)
    2013: Boger (Packers-49ers Divisional – 2nd on Saturday, Ravens-49ers SB)
    2014: McAulay (Saints-Seahawks Divisional – 1st on Saturday, Broncos-Seahawks SB)
    2015: Vinovich (Ravens-Patriots Divisional – 1st on Saturday, Patriots-Seahawks SB)
    2016: Blakeman (Packers-Cardinals Divisional – 2nd on Saturday, Broncos-Panthers SB)

    Like anything with a sample size of five, it could be only coincidence. If it isn’t, though, Steratore and Morelli are looking up.

  6. Hey Luke, am I reading you correctly when you say McAulay is forgiving,meaning he doesn’t throw many flags? You may want to double check that stat. A few weeks back there was a posting here showing his crew threw the most flags and I’m betting he lead the pack.

    I like Gene because he has a personality and is not afraid to show it, much like Red Cashen. I’m betting he gets it unless he has a major bomb explode in his game. Also, what a comeback year for Morelli! Last year everyone was on his case, this year he get a divisional game. Guess the change in crew makeup helped. Good Luck to them all.

  7. Only 2 more referees are going to get a playoff game. You still have the 2 Walts…Anderson and Coleman…..Blakeman,,,,,Vinovich and Parry. I’m leaving out Mcauley because he had a terrible year.

    I’m pulling for Walt Coleman but he may get left out, undeservingly again.

    By the way….what keeps Jeff Triplette in the league? How many consecutive years can one be at Tier 3 official?

  8. For the Super Bowl any of the 4, except for Morelli, are deserving of the selection. The umpire will probably be Dan Farrell and the HL should be Kent Payne. LJ will be between Seeman and Podraza and FJ will be between Rosenbaum and Horton. I would guess Prioleau for SJ and I would think that BJ is between Paganelli and Prukop since Freeman worked it in 2014 and Ferguson worked it last year.
    The alternates are interesting as 2 were alternates last week and we have 3 R’s. They aren’t assigning the alternates like last year where the divisional alternates worked the conference champ.

  9. Praise the Lord Jerome Boger will NOT be working the Super Bowl. He didn’t deesrve the one he got and notriously screwed the 49ers.

  10. Well as Josh said back in ben article Crete blakeman is referee for super bowl 50, we can expect the R ans U, HL and SJ, AND LJ and FJ to come frome same division crews. In the past 4 years those 3 duostar have gone on to the super bowl with no pattern for bj selection

  11. Like others have alluded to, there is some hints that the league has given us about who’ll get the Super Bowl assignment, but there is still a fair bit left open to interpretation.

    Assuming that the past precedent of keeping the HL/SJ and LJ/FJ duos together from divisional weekend still holds, the LJ/FJ would 100% be Seeman/Rosenbaum because every other duo has an ineligible FJ or LJ. The HL/SJ could be Bergman/Vernatchi, but smart money suggests Payne/Prioleau because both were in a conference championship last year and Payne has the best track record of the current head linesmen (5 years out of 6 he’s had a CC or Super Bowl).

    The U position is relatively simple to figure out; Smith is ineligible (only 2 years’ experience) and Stritesky is ineligible (no recent playoff assignments and lack of a CC). That leaves Ferrell and Schuster, and since Schuster worked Super Bowl 49, that would give the inside track to Ferrell (it doesn’t hurt that Ferrell has done the last 2 NFC Championship games either).

    BJ is an interesting proposition. Ferguson is out because he had last year’s game. Prukop hasn’t done the Super Bowl whereas Freeman and Paganelli have, so that gives him an inside track. HOWEVER, Prukop was involved in 2 controversial plays this season, 1 indirectly (lack of a DPI call in week 6) and 1 directly (ruling an OBJ pass complete when it clearly wasn’t in week 15). Those errors might be enough to push him out of tier 1 and thus give the assignment to Paganelli since his Super Bowl was 47 and Freeman’s was 48.

    Unlike other years, the R position is the hardest to figure out this time around IMO. Cheffers, Corrente, and Steratore would all be worthy of the assignment (I personally have thought that Morelli’s overrated as a ref and didn’t merit an assignment). What hinders Corrente is the policy that a ref who hasn’t done the Super Bowl can leapfrog over other tier 1 refs that have. Given that there neither Steratore or Cheffers have a Super Bowl at any position, they’ll likely get 1st preference over Corrente, which is unfortunate since Corrente has always been a solid R. Now at the R position, Steratore has the better track record than Cheffers, but Cheffers has the presumptive Super Bowl umpire with him this weekend. While not as consistently enforced, the R/U for the Super Bowl in 3 of the last 4 years have been paired together on Divisional weekend. On the other hand, Cheffers didn’t receive ANY playoff assignment last year (not even an alternate spot) so could someone bounce back from nothing at all to the big game?

    Anyway, enough analysis. Here’s my guess at the Super Bowl LI crew:

    R: Carl Cheffers
    U: Dan Ferrell
    HL: Kent Payne
    LJ: Jeff Seeman
    FJ: Doug Rosenbaum
    SJ: Dyrol Prioleau
    BJ: Dino Paganelli

  12. I hope Tony Corrente gets the Super Bowl assignment. He’s a good referee, and he has an inspirational personal story, battling back from throat cancer.

  13. If it works like last year, the CC referees will either Coleman, Parry, or Hussey. I think Coleman and Parry will get the CC games (Is Hussey eligible for a CC at all yet?).

    That leads to the conclusion that Hussey, Triplette, Boger, Vinovich, Blakeman, Anderson, and McAulay do not get an on-field playoff assignment this year. Stunning that the referees of the last four Super Bowls (Blakeman, Vinovich, McAulay, Boger) are all in this list. Personally I think that Blakeman, Vinovich, and McAulay (maybe he is out because he missed a couple of games at the beginning of the season due to a medical issue) are three of the best the NFL has.

  14. Tony! Tony! Tony! 5 conference championships, numerous times SB-backup and just one real SB? Last year he was an indisputable #1 but finished only as a runner-up.
    All of his crew members except HL are in this weekend. He is a great mentor and a superb official. He trully deserves it but i think that politically it will be Cheffers.

  15. Looks like Parry and Coleman in the finals with Steratore in the Super backed up by Cheffers as the alternate. Reason. Gene has never been to the big game and Cheffers has though not as a white hat.

  16. I have always liked Gene he was referee that Got the first game after lockout was over with
    I also think Bill Vinovich is pretty good
    Interesting how the referees have been picked this yr for playoff games and how some of the best ones don’t even get playoff games

  17. No Jeff Trip? Just kidding. He and Sarah are still looking for that fumbled ball from the Redskins game.

  18. Steratore and Mcauley are the two most OVERRATED referees the league has had since Bob Federic worked (30 years ago).

    I really don’t see the attraction you readers have in these two. Try and be objective and don’t put your personal feelings in your evaluation. How do they perform on the field?

    For Terry Mcauley, BOTTLEGATE could occur at any time!

  19. Leroy, let’s look at the facts. Since Dean Blandino took charge of the officiating department, and not including this season, Steratore has been assigned a conference championship game, a divisional round game, and a wild card game. McAulay has been assigned Super Bowl 48, a divisional round game, and a divisional round game. Hence, their performance on the field is obviously better than you’re implying. And that’s the problem.

    We’re the ones who are objective. Not you. That’s the point. Other posters aren’t getting the same negative reactions that you are. I wish you could learn from that.

  20. LOL, bottlegate. That was a really long time ago, and wasn’t his fault. But still, everytime he does a game, I think “bottlegate”.

  21. Hey Leroy, I’m with you on Mcauley! Way overrated and too technical and has history of losing control of games, Giants/Panthers and of course Bottlegate and he had a terrible game this year with Panthers and Rams, letting Cam get beat up and not throwing a flag.

  22. I don’t really care what the article says, I’ve seen the video and that is all that is needed. I could care less what he has to say about the game, he screwed up. As for the Rams/Panther game not counting, REALLY, so you mean Cam didn’t take those hits? Sure looked like he did on the replay. Again, don’t care what happened to others, we are taking about HIM, #77, correct????

  23. Sure you’ve seen the video, but what you don’t know is that he was buzzed before the snap. He couldn’t ignore it; if he did, he would’ve committed a major administrative error far worse than what actually happened. It isn’t his fault that the Dawg Pound acted juvenile. Yes, he wasn’t allowed to end the game there and then; Mike Pereria admits that in his book, but you know what? “Stuff” happens to even the greatest of officials; Jerry Markbreit had the Holy Roller; Ed Hochuli had the Chargers/Broncos ending in 2008, Jim Tunney and crew disallowed an obvious TD catch in a Steelers/Oilers AFC title game, and Terry McAulay had Bottlegate. Those incidents don’t diminish the good that they’ve all done for the game.

    Also, I never said that Cam didn’t take the hits; it’s clear as day that he did. What I said was that Cam took those types of hits all season, and he didn’t get calls those times either. And the others DO matter because when Cam took those hits and didn’t get flags, you didn’t vilify those officials. Only your pet project, #77.

    Look, you’re entitled to your opinion; others share that opinion with you. Others are entitled to a different opinion. But just because we like Terry McAulay as a referee and you don’t doesn’t mean we’re in the wrong for liking him.

  24. AAAA
    You surely are entitled to your opinion and so am I. The issue was if he was buzzed before the play went off THEN he should’ve shut the play down. Once the play goes off, he can NOT by rule, come back and review the play. So he made up his own rule and lucky for him Pereria stood behind him. In the case of the hits on Cam, in his game they came DIRECTLY after the commissioner told everyone that Cam would be protected and then McAulay comes in and doesn’t protect him! Are you kidding me! The question is WHY not throw the flag? The answer is because he is arrogant and just like last year when Blandino came out and told him “I’ll support you if you throw those players out of the game” he again ignored his BOSS! How he got away with it last year and again this year is shocking. Which is why I don’t care for him as a referee. I know that if I didn’t listen to my boss when told something directly I would NOT be working the following week and that is a FACT!

  25. I remember McAulay’s playoff games in the last few years, all perfectly and smoothly run with some great calls on his side (e. g. the halftime field goal in the divisional round in Seattle two years ago against Carolina where everybody thought that the ball was tipped but it wasn’t and he rightly threw the flag for running into the kicker). Yes, he might be a bit cocky but I don’t think that’s a bad thing for an NFL referee.

    And just because everybody is shouting around to throw more flags for hits on Cam does not mean that there should be more flags by rule. And in that game, he decided, there was no foul by rule so he left the flag in his pocket, regardless of what Goodell or the media want to see. To me, that’s how a referee should approach every game.

  26. dmb
    I’m guessing by everyone you are including Roger Goodell too? All I know is he failed to follow the lead of ‘the BiG boss’ by not throwing on hits which were clearly fouls this year. Then there was the incident last year when he fail to follow the suggestion by ‘his BOSS’ to through out the two idiots in the Giant/Panther game. So cocky is a mild description of what he is. Everyone but 77 knew those hits were fouls but he still choice not to throw, it was a JOKE! But you can admire whomever you choose it’s up to you. My choice is not to admire someone as arrogant and cocky. Based on attending clinic where he was the guest speaker, I know from experience what he is all about and that is HIMSELF!

  27. Careful Al, you’re starting to distort the truth again. Those fouls weren’t McAulay’s responsibility, they were the responsibility of his deep wings and hence, their responsibility to eject the offending players. And for the record, they did call the fouls, which is a far cry from ignoring everything going on. And regarding the arrogance and cockiness, I want that in an official rather than a pushover and I’m sure deep down, you want that too.

    But you know what, when Blakeman and Vinovich are calling the Conference Championship games next week (not a fact, just a guess) you can watch those games in peace.

  28. AAAA
    While the first couple of incidents were downfield, the most blatant occurred right in front of him, when OBJ launched and targeted with his helmet the defender. Flags were thrown by one of the deep officials (SJ) and the umpire. So if the umpire sees it why not the REFEREE? The arrogance comes into play when he ignores direct instructions from Blandino to DQ the two idiots for the sake of keeping control of the game and for not taking the lead from Goodell and protecting Cam. I believe an official needs to be confident but not to the point of arrogant or cocky, that normally gets an official BENCHED.
    I can only hope your prediction for this weekend is TRUE. I think Vinovich is one of the best R’s in the league, I like the way he conducts himself during the game and the way he handles players and coaches. Blakeman is solid but was strapped with a subpar crew this year, so his pick is questionable but I’m pulling for him. Hope 77 gets a black jacket in NE to watch one of the two better R’s work.

  29. checking multiple times a day to see when Conference championship games referees will be posted. lol

  30. Just wanted to point out to Leroy Kelly that one of your favourite refs will be working the AFC Championship on Sunday. Looks like you and Al were wrong again.

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