There’s a part of every NFL game which tends to get overlooked – the officials. Here’s a quick look at the eight men who will be controlling the game in Minneapolis come Sunday.
We often forget that there are three teams on the field in every football game. In some respects, the third one, the one we try to ignore, is even more important than the two sides fighting it out for the prize, because without them there would be no game. We expect perfection from them in a way that we don’t from either of the other two sides (although kickers might disagree!), we bemoan their mistakes and we give them little credit for their good decisions. They are, of course, the officials.
Gene Steratore will be the man in overall charge of Super Bowl LII. This is his first time refereeing a Super Bowl, although he was the alternate (i.e. reserve) official for Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. There’s a feeling in NFL circles that this is a long-overdue appointment, coming in Steratore’s twelfth season as a ref. He has a reputation for being calm, decisive and unshowy, all things which the NFL prizes in an official. He’s also not afraid to throw a flag, and encourages his crew to do so, too – only one regular season unit threw the yellow more often than his.
Outside of his officiating job he owns a sanitary supplies company in Washington, Pennsylvania along with his brother, who is also an NFL official. He is also one of two NFL referees who also work as NCAA Division I basketball officials.
Joining Steratore from that regular season crew is umpire Roy Ellison. Ellison is best known as the official who was banned in 2013 for abusing Washington’s Trent Williams, so this presumably marks his rehabilitation by the League. This is his second Superbowl, having previously covered XLIII.
The down judge will be Jerry Bergman (from Jeff Triplette‘s crew), who is also making his Super Bowl debut. Line judge Byron Boston (Walt Anderson‘s crew) and field judge Tom Hill (Brad Allen) will be working their third Super Bowl. At side judge and back judge respectively, Scott Edwards (Ron Torbert) and Perry Paganelli (John Parry) get a second showing on the biggest NFL occasion of all.
Indeed, Paganelli can lay claim to being the most consistent official in the NFL at the moment, as this is his second successive Super Bowl. The only other official to appear in consecutive Super Bowls was Tom Sifferman, who made three consecutive appearances as field judge in the early 2000’s. His brother Dino Paganelli is the back judge on Steratore’s regular season crew and worked Super Bowl XLVII, whilst his other brother, Carl Paganelli, has appeared in no fewer than four Super Bowls as an umpire.