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2023 Divisional Playoffs

Some big achievements for Divisional Playoff officiating crews this weekend

Let’s preview the officials for this weekend’s divisional playoffs.

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This weekend’s divisional playoff officiating crews are a ready to call the games and there are some interesting nuggets of information in these assignments.

Many officials working a divisional playoff for the first time

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The following officials are working their first divisional playoff assignment this weekend, including down judge Patrick Holt, pictured above.

      Yrs 2023 crew College Occupation
R 55 Alex Kemp 10   Central Michigan insurance agent
U 49 Alex Moore 2 Vinovich St. Petersburg compliance manager
U 89 Mike Morton 2 Kemp North Carolina dentist FORMER NFL PLAYER
DJ 44 Frank LeBlanc 4 Hussey Lamar Institute of Technology neighborhood services manager
DJ 106 Patrick Holt 5 Hochuli North Carolina State IT manager
LJ 85 Daniel Gallagher 4 Blake Kent State athletic programs manager
FJ 57 Joe Blubaugh 4 Vinovich Pittsburg State regional sales manager
FJ 90 Anthony Flemming 4 Hussey Texas A&M-Commerce senior auditor
BJ 96 Matt Edwards 6 Hussey Western Michigan healthcare sales
  • What’s an even more impressive is that Moore and Morton are officiating a divisional playoff in their first year of eligibility. Any playoff game is a feather in the cap, but the first assignment in the second round might be worth two feathers in the cap.

Weather will again play a role

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The games in Buffalo and Baltimore promise cold and blustery weather and hopefully little to no precipitation. But it will be cold. In these games both the players and the officials (who don’t get to come out of the game and warm up under a parka), have to push the cold out of their minds, bear down and concentrate on every play.

Nice mix of experience and newcomers this weekend

The crews this weekend are a nice blend of veteran and younger officials. In some leagues it seems like playoff assignments are based on longevity. But it is nice to see the NFL mixing in younger officials.

You will see the Super Bowl officials on the field this weekend

Traditionally, the NFL assigns the Super Bowl officials to the Divisional Playoffs. The Super Bowl crew is not all assigned to one game. In the past, the NFL assigned Super Bowl officials to the divisional playoffs in the pairs they will work with during the Super Bowl: referee/umpire and sideline pairs of down judge/side judge and line judge/field judge. In looking over the Divisional Playoff crews and cross-checking Super Bowl eligibility, some things aren’t adding up. Could Walt Anderson be assigning Super Bowl officials differently in this round? Or are we in for a bigger surprise when the Super Bowl crew is announced?

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This weekend many times features some of the most exciting playoff games of the year. We’re looking forward to some good games and some great officiating this weekend!

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?"

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Richard

    January 20, 2024 at 5:04 pm

    I’m thinking Tom Hill will get another Super Bowl assignment. Could be a case where it’s him & crew mate LJ Gallagher to get the nod.

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