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Diversity in officiating

NFL will make history with Monday night officiating crew

What was an officiating milestone in the Super Bowl has been shattered.



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What was an officiating milestone in the Super Bowl has been superseded multiple times in just three months of gametime since.

The Super Bowl crew was the fourth time in NFL history that any regular or postseason game had a majority of the crew composed of minorities, and the first time a game had 5 Black officials . The assignment to the pinnacle game was earned, with most officials on that crew completing a return trip to the title game.

When the NFL reconfigured the 2020 regular season crews to regional assignments on account of the coronavirus pandemic, referee Jerome Boger headed a crew that included 5 Black officials, which ensured the milestone was replicated on a weekly basis. Owing to substitutions and byes, all but two weeks so far had waivered, with the Week 9 contest between the Broncos and Falcons moving the high-water mark to include 6 of the 7 officials.

Now, the bar has been set to the highest level in its 101-year history. For the Monday night game on Nov. 23, the NFL will field a full crew of Black officials.

Yrs2020 crewCollegeOccupation
R 23 Jerome Boger 17   Morehouse College retired commercial insurance underwriter
U 20 Barry Anderson 14 Boger North Carolina State builder/developer
DJ 10 Julian Mapp 12 Boger Grambling State software quality assurance tester
LJ 101 Carl Johnson 17 Hochuli Nicholls State retired sales manager, former full-time official
FJ 104 Dale Shaw 8 Boger Allegheny pharmaceutical sales
SJ 36 Anthony Jeffries 3 Boger Alabama-Birmingham medical sales
BJ 12 Greg Steed 18 Hill Howard computer systems analyst

Three officials on this crew — umpire Barry Anderson, line judge Carl Johnson, and back judge Greg Steed — worked Super Bowl LIV.

The Big Ten conference, which is the lead conference in an officiating consortium headed by former NFL referee Bill Carollo, opened their season with a full staff of African-American officials in one of their games, including the 8 on-field officials, replay personnel, and timers.

Of course, this is always about fielding a crew of talented individuals, and without a doubt, these officials have reached the pro level not by accident. While this could be derided as a public-relations stunt, the fact remains that this has not ever occurred in NFL history, owing largely to the fact that about 75 percent of the league’s history there were either zero or less than a full crew of people of color on the staff. The very first NFL game in 1920 was a demographic milestone as well, which was at a time that officiating directories had a separate section based on skin color.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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