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Alan Eck promoted to NFL referee

Alan Eck replaces Jerome Boger at the referee position.



Umpire Alan Eck has been promoted from umpire to referee, replacing the retired Jerome Boger. Eck wears number 76 and just completed his seventh season as an NFL official.

Eck has flown under the radar as far as referee prospects go. He worked as a referee in college in the Big 12 conference where current senior vice president of officiating Walt Anderson was the head of officiating; however he never auditioned in the NFL for the referee position in a preseason game or worked as a referee in the spring pro leagues. During the pandemic, he was designated as an emergency referee in case several white hats had to quarantine or if there was a pregame vacancy.

Eck’s rookie season was at side judge and the NFL then moved him to umpire starting in 2017. In his seven seasons Eck worked two playoff games in the past two postseasons: a 2021 wild card game and the 2022 NFC Championship Game. He was an alternate in four games.

This represents a shift from recent practice of promoting a recently hired official to move into the white hat. Of the ten officials that were promoted to referee since 2015, seven of them had less than 5 years experience at the time. Officials cannot qualify for the Super Bowl until their fifth season, because the longstanding guideline that it takes 5 years to break in a new official. Some of those seven referees have thrived, and others have had difficulty earning postseason assignments.

Eck was a quarterback for Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania in the 1980s, according to our partner site Quirky Research.

This is somewhat of a surprising promotion — not because Eck isn’t deserving — but because we’ve heard no information that he was still in consideration for referee. The NFL had several opportunities to audition him as a referee, but they never gave him that chance. So, our conventional wisdom was that his referee window had closed. We expected the referee promotion to come from a list that included Don Willard, Jonah Monroe, with newcomers Duane Heydt, Brandon Cruse, or Alex Moore.


For numerologists, this is the first time a referee has worn number 76.

Congratulations to Alan Eck for his new referee assignment and we look forward to seeing him on the field this fall.

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?"