Bill Leavy, former NFL referee and current referee supervisor for the Officiating Department, has been awarded the 2019 Art McNally award, according to senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron via Twitter. The Art McNally Award is named after the former head of officiating from 1968 to 1990, and recognizes an official for “exemplary professionalism, leadership and commitment to sportsmanship on and off the field.” The NFL began this award in 2002. The award was presented at the annual clinic with past winners present on stage; in previous seasons the award was handed out at the Pro Bowl.
Bill Leavy, an official in the NFL from 1995 to 2014, wore number 127 throughout his career, and was hired by the NFL in 1995 as part of a staffing increase due to the addition of the expansion Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Leavy was promoted to referee for the 2001 season, but his first game was delayed first by a labor impasse, then by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Not wanting to bargain after the tragedies, the collective bargaining agreement was sorted out quickly by both sides. After the league postponed the Week 2 games, Leavy’s first game as referee was the Rams-49ers game at Candlestick Park. Leavy wore a San Francisco Fire Department hat during the coin toss in tribute to others in the profession, calling it a privilege to wear the hat during the toss, owing to his careers as a public servant.
Leavy received his first Super Bowl assignment in his first year of eligibility. He worked as a back judge in Super Bowl XXXIV, following the 1999 season. He also was the referee for Super Bowl XL for the 2005 season, in his fifth year as a referee.
Leavy earned 16 postseason assignments in his career, including 4 Wild Card Playoffs, 9 Divisional Playoffs, 1 Conference Championship, and Super Bowls XXXIV and XL. Unusually, Leavy’s two Super Bowl assignments preceded his Conference Championship assignment.
Leavy’s last assignment was the 2014 Divisional Playoff game between the Colts and Broncos. Following his retirement, he replaced Johnny Grier as the regional supervisor of referees. In this position, Leavy works as an observer and grades the white hats’ performances.
Congratulations to Bill Leavy on receiving this well-deserved honor.