Football Zebras
HistoryThis year, the NFL will have the first majority minority officiating crew in Super Bowl history

This year, the NFL will have the first majority minority officiating crew in Super Bowl history

Last week, Football Zebras broke the news of the seven men selected to officiate Super Bowl LIV to conclude the centennial season of the NFL. This crew will be making history on Feb. 2 in Miami, as the Super Bowl crew will be the first majority African-American officiating crew in Super Bowl history.

Entering the Super Bowl only three games — any regular season or postseason game — have had a majority African-American crew of officials. Super Bowl LIV will be the first game in league history to have five African-American officials on the field.

This was not an exercise in making history, as these five officials already have a combined five Super Bowl rings of their own.

“Super Bowl officiating assignments are determined after reviewing every play of every game, and only those meeting the highest performance standards are considered,” said Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations. “These officials are the very best in the world with exemplary on-field performance, leadership and excellence that far exceeds the established criteria, and truly demonstrates the power of diversity and inclusion in this great game.”

Umpire Barry Anderson is a builder/developer from Atlanta and is working his first Super Bowl. Having started his NFL career as a deep official, Anderson was transitioned to the umpire position for a potential promotion to referee. While his white hat has not come, he is still considered one of the top officials in the pipeline for future vacancies. In the meantime, he has really hit his stride in his new position, receiving four playoff assignments in the five years as an umpire. Anderson was one of the designated full-time officials in 2017, which entailed additional officiating support work during the offseason.

Line judge Carl Johnson resides in Thibodaux, La., who many will remember as the NFL vice president of officiating from 2010 to 2012. Succeeding Mike Pereira in the top post in the officiating department, Johnson was hired for his strong rules knowledge. Ultimately, the position demanded that he be away from his family too much, and so the league transitioned him back onto the field as their first full-time official.

Field judge Michael Banks is a carpenter foreman from University Park, Ill. Before being hired by the NFL in 2002, Banks was a deep wing official in the original XFL during its sole 2001 season. This season was his first at the field judge position, having worked as a side judge for 17 seasons. This will be his third appearance at a Super Bowl in the last four seasons, having worked as an alternate in Super Bowls LI and LIII.

Side judge Boris Cheek (pictured above) lives in Charlotte, N.C., and is a director of operations and management. One of the most well-respected officials in the game, Cheek has been described as a mentor to younger officials who have just joined the professional ranks. In addition to his 24 seasons of NFL experience, Cheek was a field judge in the Canadian Football League for two seasons in the 1990s. In the 2017 and 2018 seasons, he was designated a full-time official.

Back judge Greg Steed is a computer systems analyst from Mitchville, Md. Steed is a United States Marine Corps veteran who served during the Persian Gulf War. Like Banks, Steed also officiated in the original XFL in 2001, two years before his hiring by the NFL prior to the 2003 season. In addition to working in the NFL Europe league in 2003, Steed was also one of the NFL’s full-time officials in 2017 and 2018.

Out of the approximately 1,100 officials who have worked throughout the league’s 100-year history, there have only been 74 black officials, and 35 of those 74 were active officials in the 2019 season. Head linesman Burl Toler broke the pro sports officiating color barrier when he was hired by the NFL in 1965. Head linesman Leo Miles was the first African-American official to officiate a Super Bowl, in Super Bowl VIII following the 1973 season.

Below is a full list of all 73 African-American on-field officials in league history.

      Yrs Hired College Playoff assignments Super Bowl assignments
HL 37 Burl Toler 25 1965 San Francisco 1 WC, 7 DIV, 3 CC XIV
LJ 65 Aaron Wade 8† 1966 Los Angeles State 1 DIV, 1 CC  
LJ 59 Bob Beeks 22 1968 Lincoln 5 WC, 10 DIV, 3 CC XIV, XVI, XVIII, XXI, XXIII
HL 35 Leo Miles 22 1969 Virginia State 3 WC, 4 DIV, 5 CC VIII, X, XIX
HL 85 Frank Glover 17 1972 Morris Brown 2 WC, 3 DIV  
LJ 64 John Hanson 1 1974 Fort Valley State    
BJ 41 Charles Reed 3 1975 Whittier    
SJ 97 Nate Jones 22 1977 Lewis & Clark 4 WC, 3 DIV, 2 CC XXVIII
FJ 106 Al Jury 28 1978 San Bernardino Valley JC 3 WC, 8 DIV, 5 CC XX, XXII, XXIV, XXVIII, XXXIV
SJ 62 Willie Spencer 4 1978 Prairie View A&M    
LJ 33 John Everett 4 1979 Illinois    
LJ 45 Ron DeSouza 11 1980 Morgan State 2 WC, 1 DIV, 2 CC  
LJ 4 Wilson Gosier 4 1980 Fort Valley State    
R 23 Johnny Grier 24 1991 University of D.C. 2 WC, 9 DIV, 3 CC XXII
LJ 117 Ben Montgomery 22 1982 Morehouse 8 WC, 4 DIV, 3 CC XXXII, XXXVIII
LJ 56 Carver Shannon 3 1983 Southern Illinois    
LJ 112 Joe Haynes 9 1984 Alcorn State 1 WC, 1 DIV  
HL 79 Aaron Pointer 17 1987 Pacific Lutheran 2 WC, 3 DIV  
HL 121 Sanford Rivers 17 1989 Youngstown State 2 WC, 3 DIV, 1 CC XXXIII
R 94 Mike Carey 24 1990 Santa Clara 10 WC, 5 DIV, 2 CC XLII
LJ 37 Larry Upson 7 1991 Prince George CC 1 WC, 1 DIV, 1 CC  
U 31 Chad Brown 23 1992 Texas A&M-Commerce 7 WC, 4 DIV, 2 CC XXXV, XLV
LJ 62 Charles Stewart 18 1992 Long Beach State 4 WC, 4 DIV  
BJ 45 George Coleman 5 1993 Bishop    
U 74 Jim Duke 10 1993 Howard 1 WC  
BJ 83 Richard Reels 20 1993 (none) 5 WC, 5 DIV, 1 CC  
LJ 18 Byron Boston 25* 1995 Austin 5 WC, 7 DIV, 10 CC XXXIV, XLVII, LII
BJ 126 Don Carey 19 1995 California-Riverside 1 WC, 6 DIV XXXVII
SJ 89 Neely Dunn 6 1995 South Carolina State 2 WC, 3 CC  
SJ 124 Leslie Speight 4 1995 (none)    
SJ 41 Boris Cheek 24* 1996 Morgan State 6 WC, 5 DIV, 2 CC XLII, 50, LIV
FJ 102 Keven Mack 5 1997 Fort Valley State 1 WC  
LJ 130 Darryll Lewis 17 1998 Dartmouth 2 WC, 3 DIV  
HL 43 James Wilson 8 1998 Eastern Kentucky 1 WC, 2 DIV  
FJ 82 Buddy Horton 19 1999 Oregon State 6 WC, 4 DIV, 1 CC  
U 96 Undrey Wash 17 2000 Texas-Arlington 2 WC, 6 DIV, 2 CC XLIV
LJ 101 Carl Johnson 18* 2001 Nicholls State 3 WC, 7 DIV, 2 CC XLII, LIV
FJ 72 Michael Banks 18* 2002 Illinois State 4 WC, 5 DIV XLIII, LIV
U 76 Darrell Jenkins 13 2002 San Jose State 2 WC, 4 DIV XLVII
DJ 110 Phil McKinnely 18* 2002 UCLA 5 WC, 3 DIV  
U 81 Roy Ellison 17* 2003 Savannah State 3 WC, 4 DIV, 4 CC XLIII, LII
BJ 12 Greg Steed 17* 2003 Howard 4 WC, 2 DIV, 2 CC XLIV, LIV
R 23 Jerome Boger 16* 2004 Morehouse 4 DIV XLVII
LJ 100 Tom Symonette 16* 2004 Florida 5 WC, 3 DIV, 1 CC XLVIII
SJ 95 James Coleman 15* 2005 Arkansas 2 WC, 4 DIV  
FJ 43 Terry Brown 14* 2006 Tennessee-Knoxville 4 WC, 2 DIV, 1 CC  
U 71 Ruben Fowler 14* 2006 Houston-Tillotson 2 WC, 4 DIV, 2 CC  
U 20 Barry Anderson 13* 2007 North Carolina State 3 WC, 5 DIV LIV
HL 106 Wayne Mackie 10 2007 Colgate 5 DIV, 2 CC 50
FJ 109 Dyrol Prioleau 13* 2007 Johnson C. Smith 1 WC, 2 DIV, 3 CC LI
SJ 7 Keith Washington 12* 2008 Virginia Military Institute 1 WC, 3 DIV  
LJ 98 Greg Bradley 11* 2009 Tennessee 1 WC  
U 11 Fred Bryan 11* 2009 Northern Iowa 3 WC, 2 DIV, 1 CC LIII
SJ 86 Jimmy Buchanan 11* 2009 South Carolina State 3 WC  
LJ 10 Julian Mapp 11* 2009 Grambling State 2 WC, 2 DIV, 1 CC  
BJ 111 Terrence Miles 11* 2009 Arizona State 3 WC, 3 DIV, 2 CC XLIX, LIII
R 29 Adrian Hill 10* 2010 Buffalo 2 WC, 1 DIV  
R 62 Ron Torbert 10* 2010 Michigan State 3 WC, 4 DIV  
BJ 38 Greg Yette 10* 2010 Howard 1 DIV  
SJ 87 Keith Parham 3 2011 Howard    
SJ 104 Dale Shaw 7* 2013 Allegheny 3 DIV  
SJ 103 Eugene Hall 6* 2014 North Texas 3 WC, 2 DIV, 2 CC LIII
FJ 117 John Jenkins 6* 2014 St. Mary’s 1 DIV  
DJ 13 Patrick Turner 6* 2014 Cal State-Long Beach 2 WC, 1 DIV, 1 CC  
DJ 123 Ed Walker 4 2014 San Jose State    
R 14 Shawn Smith 5* 2015 Ferris State 2 WC, 1 DIV, 1 CC  
SJ 26 Jabir Walker 5* 2015 Murray State    
U 128 Ramon George 4* 2016 Lenoir-Rhyne 1 WC, 1 DIV  
DJ 63 Mike Carr 3* 2017 Wisconsin    
FJ 31 Mearl Robinson 3* 2017 Air Force 1 DIV  
FJ 36 Anthony Jeffries 2* 2018 Alabama-Birmingham 1 DIV  
DJ 106 Patrick Holt 1* 2019 North Carolina State    
FJ 42 Nate Jones 1* 2019 Rutgers    
U 77 Terry Killens 1* 2019 Penn State    

* active official in the 2019 season.

† hired by the AFL, joined NFL post-merger.

Cameron Filipe
Cameron Filipe
Cam Filipe is a junior at the University of New Haven, majoring in forensic science. He has been involved in football officiating for seven years and currently works as a flag football official in college. This is his fourth season covering NFL officiating for Fᴏᴏᴛʙᴀʟʟ Zᴇʙʀᴀs.

8 thoughts on “This year, the NFL will have the first majority minority officiating crew in Super Bowl history

  1. My understanding of the rules is that an assignment in the Wild Card or Divisional Round next year will count as her 3rd Assignment to the 3 in 5 rule

  2. Oh, the inclusion crowd just can’t wait for Sarah in the SB. Does anyone really think that Sarah is the best DJ in the NFL?

    Seriously?

    If the hiring were done solely on merit, she would be working D2 or D3. There are many power 5 officials that are better than she is.

    I guess there are other factors in hiring.

  3. Put your money where your mouth is. Name the DJ’s in the NFL and college that are better than Sarah Thomas.

  4. In the NFL, literally every single one is better, but number 110. So, she is better than one of them.

    And, at this stage, I have yet to see the new guy Patrick Holt.

    But, if you think 53 is on the level of 48 or 8 or 79 or 134 or 13 or 91 0r 63 or 6 …

  5. Using NFL nomenclature, I consider Thomas a Tier 2 DJ. My Tier 1 generally includes 79, 48, 6, and depending on the year 68, 74, and 8 have made appearances. 91 is really good controlling the sideline and with preventative officiating, but other aspects of his game I like less. However, she is not in my Tier 3 DJ like 110, 106, 63, 113.

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