It’s been a long time coming!
The first all-Black officiating crew has been assembled for the NFL’s Monday night game featuring the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ESPN reports.
While many are still boycotting the NFL for their harmful and racist business practices that left former quarterback Colin Kaepernick blackballed, the league is still attempting to make strides towards a more diverse and inclusive atmosphere, in thought and deed. For the first time in history, the NFL has assembled an all-Black officiating crew to work Monday night’s football game.
Referee Jerome Boger will lead the crew alongside umpire Barry Anderson, down judge Julian Mapp, line judge Carl Johnson, side judge Dale Shaw, field judge Anthony Jeffries, and back judge Greg Steed. Typically, the NFL assembles 17 crews before the season, intending to keep them all together for each game. As a result of COVID-19, the crews were organized by geographic location, giving officials the option to remain closer to home.
Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, spoke about the crew, saying, “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.”
Only four of the NFL’s 17 referees/crew chiefs are Black, including Boger, Ron Torbert, Adrian Hill, and Shawn Smith. While small, it is still a higher percentage of Black representation than coaches or general managers in the league. Boger says he is excited to be a part of this historic moment, hopefully catalyzing more change to come. In 1965, the NFL hired Burl Toler, the first Black official in any major sports league.
“I am proud of my heritage and excited about my participation in this historic game. The opportunity to work with a great group of Black officials and exhibit our proficiency in executing our assignment is something I am really looking forward to,” Boger said.
The game is scheduled for Monday, November 23, 8:15 p.m. ET.
Photo Courtesy of ESPN