For the first time in league history, the NFL will have an all-Black officiating crew on “Monday Night Football” in Tampa. This allows the league to make a social statement while serving up a marquee matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams.
The seven-man crew will be led by referee Jerome Boger, a former Morehouse College quarterback, who also was the referee of (SB XLVII and is in his 17th year as an official. Other members of this very distinguished and distinctive crew are as follows.
Barry Anderson (Umpire), Julian Mapp (Down Judge), Carl Johnson (Line Judge), Dale Shaw (Field Judge), Anthony Jeffries (Side Judge), and Greg Steed (Back Judge).
The makeup of this particular unit is of no coincidence. These members were drawn from a variety of crews and assembled for a specific purpose. Weeks after the NFL marked its 100-year anniversary.
“This historic Week 11 crew is a testament to the countless and immeasurable contributions of Black officials to the game of football, their exemplary performance, and to the power of inclusion that is the Hallmark of this great game”, Troy Vincent, NFL VP of Football Operations made in a statement when asked about this soon-to-be historic moment.
The 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 Troy Vincent said in a statement. https://t.co/diq9fpywsu
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 17, 2020
It’s also pretty special to have this officiating milestone occur for a Rams and Bucs game. Both teams have been leaders in the fight for inclusion and an end to systemic inequality within the league’s hiring culture.
The Buccaneers are the first team in the NFL history with three Black coordinators in Todd Bowles (DEFENSE), Byron Leftwich (OFFENSE), and Keith Armstrong (SPECIAL TEAMS). They also have two women on Bruce Arians’ staff in Lori Locust (Asst Defensive Line) and Maral Javadifar (Asst Strength and Conditioning Coach).
While the Rams were the first team to reintegrate in 1946, after a 12-year color ban. They signed Kenny Washington (Running Back) and Woodie Strode (Wide Receiver). This move coincided with the Cleveland Browns signing Marion Motley (Fullback) and Bill Willis (Guard).
In most cases, the less that game officials are noticed the better for not drawing attention and the ire of coaches, players, and fans on controversial calls. But Monday Night’s crew led by Jerome Boger will be distinguished, celebrated, and highlighted for all the right reasons.