- ESPN.com national NFL writer
- ESPN.com NFC North reporter, 2008-2013
- Covered Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008
The NFL has assembled an all-Black officiating crew for the first time to work Monday night’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, citing the opportunity to recognize the league’s history and recent practices in diversifying its officiating department.
“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,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said.
The crew will be led by referee Jerome Boger and includes four members of his 2020 crew. Monday night’s group will include umpire Barry Anderson, down judge Julian Mapp, line judge Carl Johnson, side judge Dale Shaw, field judge Anthony Jeffries and back judge Greg Steed.
The NFL typically assembles its 17 officiating crews prior to the season and works to keep them together for each game to promote cohesion and communication. It organized the crews by home geography this season because of the coronavirus pandemic, giving officials the option to drive rather than fly to games if desired.
Johnson, who lives in Louisiana, and Steed, who lives near Washington, D.C., were pulled from other crews.
Four of the NFL’s 17 referee/crew chiefs are Black — Boger, Ron Torbert, Adrian Hill and Shawn Smith — a higher percentage than for NFL coaches or general managers. Two members of its three-man leadership team, senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron and senior vice president of officiating administration Perry Fewell, are minorities. The NFL hired Burl Toler, the first Black official in any major sports league, in 1965.
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