As we get ready to enjoy Super Bowl LIV, here are six things I’ve noticed about the crew.
1. Experience counts
Since Super Bowl XXXIV in January 2000, this is only the sixth time where more than half of the crew had at least one prior Super Bowl under its belt. On Bill Vinovich’s crew, everyone but Barry Anderson has prior Super Bowl experience on the field. Other Super Bowls with a four or more members with prior Super Bowl assignments:
- (all 7 crew members) Super Bowl XXXVIII, headed by Ed Hochuli, each with 1 prior Super Bowl, only the second time all officials had a prior Super Bowl (XII, 6 officials, the year before the side judge was added)
- (5) Super Bowl XXXIV, headed by Bob McElwee, with 14 prior Super Bowls (a record), including the record fifth Super Bowl for umpire Ron Botchan and field judge Al Jury
- (5) Super Bowl LII, headed by Gene Steratore, with 7 prior Super Bowls
- (4) Super Bowl XLVI, headed by John Parry, with 6 prior Super Bowls
- (4) Super Bowl LIII, headed by Parry with 5 prior Super Bowls
The fewest in that span was 1 experienced official, which happened 4 times, most recently with Super Bowl XLVII. The only times there were shutouts of prior experience were Super Bowls I (naturally), II, and IV.
2. Two officials with big gaps in service
Bill Vinovich and Carl Johnson officiate their second Super Bowls, but each has had significant gaps in years of service. Vinovich missed six years after recovering from a near-fatal heart condition.
Many officials have worked the Super Bowl after missing a year due to sickness or injury, but three and six years missed are the biggest gaps I can remember, and both officials are working Super Bowl LIV.
3. Many happy returns
Three officials make their return to the Super Bowl after several years. Carl Johnson makes his return to the Super Bowl after a 12-year absence (Super Bowl XLII) although he spent three years off the field. Michael Banks makes his return after an 11-year absence (Super Bowl XLIII). And, Greg Steed returns to the Super Bowl after a 10-year absence (Super Bowl XLIV).
4. What’s in a position?
It is rare for officials to return to the Super Bowl at a different position, and we have two officials working different positions. Boris Cheek and Michael Banks have both worked a Super Bowl as a field judge and as a side judge, respectively.
5. A Canadian connection and an X conncection
Two Super Bowl officials, Bill Vinovich and Boris Cheek previously worked in the Canadian Football League. Two deep officials, Michael Banks and Greg Steed, worked in the original incarnation of the XFL in 2001.
6. What’s in a number?
Umpire Barry Anderson is the only official on the crew who is working his first Super Bowl; his number 20 has not been worn in a Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXV, by side judge (later referee) Larry Nemmers.
This is the seventh of the last 10 Super Bowls where there has been one or fewer crew members with a triple digit number.
The record for the number of officials with 100 or more on their jerseys are five from Super Bowl XLVI:
- John Parry, 132
- Carl Paganelli, 124
- Gary Arthur, 108
- Laird Hayes, 125
- Tony Steratore, 112
The first official to wear a jersey over number 100 in a Super Bowl was Dick Hantak as a back judge (now field judge) in Super Bowl XVII.
The last Super Bowl that didn’t have at least one on-field official with a triple-digit jersey number was Super Bowl XLIV.
The highest number worn is the highest number ever on an officiating roster (not including officials in training or replacements), number 135 by the retired Pete Morelli who worked Super Bowl XXXVI between the Rams and the Patriots as a field judge.
The lowest number worn (not counting the crazy 1979-81 numbering system) is number 3 by deep wing Scott Edwards in Super Bowl 50 and LII.
With all that, the big number is 5. As we pointed out last week, there are 5 black officials in today’s Super Bowl, the first time that has happened for any game, regular season or postseason.