The NFL is making history with its striped shirt-wearing individuals this weekend.
For the first time in the league’s history, an all-Black crew will officiate an NFL game when they take the field for Monday night’s contest between the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Veteran referee Jerome Boger will lead the crew, which is largely comprised of his regular fellow officials.
Two key differences will be in the addition of line judge Carl Johnson and back judge Greg Steed. Each have officiated two Super Bowls in their careers, and both were part of the crew for February’s Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
“This historic Week 11 crew is a testament to the countless and immeasurable contributions of Black officials to the game, their exemplary performance, and to the power of inclusion that is the hallmark of this great game,” Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, said in a release from the league.
The crew’s historical significance also includes a tie-in with a franchise that was the first to integrate in the NFL in 1946. The Los Angeles Rams signed Kenny Washington and Woody Strode in 1946, making them the first team to include Black players since 1933, which came as a result of a precondition required to secure the team’s lease at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Cleveland Browns also became the first team to integrate in the All-America Football Conference in 1946 when they signed Bill Willis and Marion Motley, eventually joining the NFL in 1950.
Burl Toler was the league’s first Black official of any capacity, beginning his role as a head linesman in 1965 through 1980. Toler was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 1952 draft, but his playing career was cut short by a knee injury, leading him to breaking barriers as an official 55 years before the league was set to debut its first all-Black crew. He worked on the crew that officiated Super Bowl XIV in the 1979 season.
The full list of the historic crew can be found below.
Referee Jerome Boger – 17th season, Morehouse – 2012 Season SB XLVII
Umpire Barry Anderson – 14th season, North Carolina State – 2019 Season SB LIV
Down Judge Julian Mapp – 12th season, Grambling State
Line Judge Carl Johnson – 17th season, Nicholls State – 2019 Season SB LIV; 2007 Season SB XLII
Side Judge Dale Shaw – 8th season, Allegheny
Field Judge Anthony Jeffries – 3rd season, Alabama-Birmingham
Back Judge Greg Steed – 18th season, Howard – 2019 Season SB LIV; 2009 Season SB XLIV
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