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2021 Divisional Playoffs

Some officiating factoids ahead of the 2021 Divisional Playoffs

First-time and long-time officials in the divisional round



As we prepare for the four divisional round playoff games this weekend, let’s take a quick look at the some of the officiating highlights.

One making his on field debut

Umpire Alan Eck makes his on-field playoff debut this weekend. He will officiate the Bills-Chiefs game Sunday night. Eck is in his sixth season as a NFL official–working field judge and umpire. Prior to this assignment, Eck was assigned as an alternate to three playoff games.

Two impressive streaks

In the past several years, even the best officials miss an on field playoff assignment due to injury, get caught out in a numbers game and get an alternate assignment, or have a below-average season and miss altogether.

Line judge Mark Perlman works the Bengals-Titans game this weekend. This is his 19th straight season with an on field assignment. In 21 seasons, Perlman has worked 23 playoff games, including three conference championships and three Super Bowls.

Kent Payne works his 17th straight season with an on field playoff assignment. He’ll work with Perlman this weekend in Tennessee. The 18-year vet has worked 21 playoff games including an amazing eight conference championships and three Super Bowls.

Congratulations to these two officials for producing playoff-caliber officiating quality so consistently over four presidential administrations.

Best wishes to this weekend’s crews for a safe and well-officiated game!

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"