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Vinovich likely to be named Super Bowl LVIII referee

Bill Vinovich is likely going to get the call for the big game

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Football Zebras analysis

As the postseason officiating assignments for the first three playoff rounds have been announced, a sole frontrunner has emerged for referee of this year’s Super Bowl — and this frontrunner is no stranger to receiving Super Bowl rings.

With reasonable certainty, Football Zebras has determined that Bill Vinovich will be the referee of Super Bowl LVIII.

Vinovich, 62, in his 18th season and 15th as referee, was one of our two white hat candidates for this year’s Super Bowl, and he has now pulled ahead in the final stretch. He was the referee for Super Bowl XLIX and Super Bowl LIV, and, if assigned, will become the 8th referee in league history to work at least 3 Super Bowls at the referee position.

This determination, as well as the determination of the remaining crew members for Super Bowl LVIII, was made based on postseason assignment patterns that have been in place for over a decade. Most notably, the Super Bowl officials are selected from the pool of 28 on-field officials who worked the Divisional Playoffs.

Additionally, with the exception of the 3-year span betwen the 2017 and 2019 seasons, officials are typically not assigned to more than 3 postseason games, whether as an alternate official or an on-field official. This was the case prior to 2017, and was re-instated in the 2020 season, and we expect that guideline to remain in place this year.

Finally, these minimum qualifications apply for Super Bowl officials:

Referee

  • 5 years of NFL experience
  • 3 years as NFL referee
  • 1 postseason game as a referee in a previous season

Other positions

  • 5 years of NFL experience
  • Postseason experience of either:
    • 1 career conference championship game
    • 3 playoff-qualifying seasons in the previous 5 years

Using these 3 guiding patterns and procedures, we can determine the likely officials to be on the field in Las Vegas on February 11th.

Vinovich is now the leading frontrunner for Super Bowl referee since each of the remaining Divisional Playoff referees have already been assigned to their limit of 2 postseason games. In addition to their on-field Divisional Playoff assignment, referees John Hussey and Alex Kemp were assigned as alternate referees in the Wild Card Playoff round, and Shawn Hochuli has been assigned as the alternate referee for the NFC Championship Game. This leaves Vinovich as the only remaining eligible referee who has not yet been assigned the maximum number of playoff games.

At the umpire position, we are expecting Terry Killens — in his 5th season and 1st year eligible — to be named the Super Bowl LVIII umpire. Taking a look at the field from the Divisional Playoffs, umpires Alex Moore and Mike Morton can be eliminated since they do not meet the years of service requirement, and Carl Paganelli was named the alternate umpire for the NFC Championship Game, giving him his maximum number of postseason assignments.

The line of scrimmage officials present the toughest challenge to predict. Down judges Patrick Holt and Danny Short are still both in the running, as are line judges Mark Perlman and Tim Podraza. Our determination is that Patrick Holt and Mark Perlman will be getting the call to officiate Super Bowl LVIII. The other option at each position are still strong possibilities, but based on observations during the season, we believe Holt and Perlman have met the Super Bowl standard.

At field judge, Tom Hill, who is retiring at the end of the season, will likely ride off into the sunset after officiating his 4th Super Bowl. The other 3 Divisional Playoff field judges already reached their limit on postseason games. Anthony Flemming, who was assigned a Conference Championship in addition to his Divisional Playoff, was already ineligible based on his too few years of service.

Allen Baynes is likely to be the Super Bowl LVIII side judge. Jimmy Buchanan and Eugene Hall have received alternate assignments in addition to their Divisional Playoff game, and James Coleman already has a recent Super Bowl under his belt. Baynes has never worked a Super Bowl, and the league will tend to prioritize qualified officials who have not worked a Super Bowl before over those who have.

Back judge Brad Freeman is also likely to take the cake this season, as the remaining 3 Divisional Playoff back judges were alternate back judges in the Wild Card Playoffs.

Projected crew

With that in mind, our likely Super Bowl crew is as follows:

      Yrs 2023 crew PS games Breakdown
R 52 Bill Vinovich 18   18 3 WC, 7 DIV, 6 CCG, XLIX, LIV
U 77 Terry Killens 5 Hochuli 4 1 WC, 3 DIV
DJ 106 Patrick Holt 5 Hochuli 4 3 WC, 1 DIV
LJ 9 Mark Perlman 23 Vinovich 26 7 WC, 12 DIV, 4 CCG, XL, XLIII, XLIX
FJ 97 Tom Hill 25 Blake 26 9 WC, 4 DIV, 10 CCG, XL, XLIX, LII
SJ 56 Allen Baynes 16 Hussey 14 5 WC, 5 DIV, 4 CCG
BJ 88 Brad Freeman 10 Clark 11 5 WC, 4 DIV, 2 CCG

Cam Filipe is a forensic scientist from Massachusetts and has been involved in football officiating for 11 years. Cam is in his third season as a high school football official. This is his eighth season covering NFL officiating for Football Zebras.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    January 23, 2024 at 2:57 pm

    Nailed it!

  2. Anonymous

    January 23, 2024 at 4:06 pm

    The Rice family now has the most members who have worked a Super Bowl. Bob was the side judge for Super Bowls XVI and XX. His son Jeff was alternate official for Super Bowl XXXV, and the on field umpire for Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and 50. Now Jim (Bob’s son and Jeff’s brother) is working the 25 second clock at Super Bowl LVIII and Jim’s son John will operate the coach to quarterback clock. The league has recently rated clock operators at all sites and decided to send the highest ranking crew to the Super Bowl as opposed to using the home town crew.

  3. Anonymous

    January 23, 2024 at 4:22 pm

    And the Paganelli family has 3 brothers who have worked Super Bowls (Carl, Perry, and Dino), also Jerry Seeman and his son Jeff, Tony Veteri Sr. and his son Tony Veteri Jr., Tony and his brother Gene Steratore, and now Ron Baynes and his sons Rusty and Allen, and now also Steve and his son Brad Freeman. More to come as there are several sons on the officiating staff now working towards the ultimate officiating honor!

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