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Football Zebras

Football Zebras celebrates 15 years

January 30, 2024, is the 15th anniversary of the first Football Zebras post.



Intentional blogging, Austro, 15 years. First down.

The reason this site exists is because I was trying to find someone who would discuss a controversial call without looking through a lens tinted by team colors. I searched everywhere, and it didn’t exist.

So, I decided to create it myself.

On Jan. 30, 2009, I published the first post about the commissioner’s annual press conference in which he alluded to a possible modification to the overtime rules. I also posted a few short blurbs about Super Bowl XLIII, and who knows if anyone saw it. I soon realized I was going to cover the 2009 season because I wanted to, and if a few eyeballs found it interesting, great.

Jan. 30, 2009: the first post

The 2012 labor impasse spiked our readership, and at the conclusion of that season, we dropped a story that was critical of the selection process of the Super Bowl XLVII crew. Although we did receive fair criticism for taking away from the prestige of a Super Bowl assignment using anonymous sources, those sources wanted to speak out against a system that they felt was broken for some time. The next season, the process was slightly modified. As for Football Zebras, well, there was no turning back.

In the years since it has surprised me how much interest people have had in this niche website and our social media feeds. CBS Sports listed us as the #3 NFL Twitter account in 2013. Referee magazine added us to their list of websites and apps “worth checking out.” In 2015, Sports Illustrated included Football Zebras in their Social 100 list. And in 2020, The Athletic included us in their list of Top 50 Twitter accounts. Somewhere in there, I found time to write a book, and So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref’s Guide to The Official Rules was published in September 2015.

This started out as a solitary project and now is a team — a crew, if you will — of officiating aficionados: headed by Mark Schultz and Cam Filipe, with contributions from Rich Madrid, Patrick Weber, Josh Cohn, Chris Seubert, and others who chose to remain behind the scenes. The growth of this site is because of their contributions and shared interest in officiating, and for your interest, our reader, in what we do here.

Click on an image to run a slideshow of our history, starting with the very first post.

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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  1. Anonymous

    January 30, 2024 at 11:20 pm

    And I wish you many, many more. Cheers. Jorge Molina / Mexico City.

  2. Anonymous

    January 31, 2024 at 1:02 am

    too bad the site isnt as good as back then. too many admins getting too easily offended pushed me off the board.

  3. phil griffin

    January 31, 2024 at 12:50 pm

    great job, congrats on 15 years of great work, your part of my routine, everyday. as a nfl scout, since 2015, working for the league, scouting college officials, for the nfl officiating dept.

  4. Anonymous

    February 3, 2024 at 9:27 pm

    Keep up the great work and congratulations!

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