History made: The first all-Black officiating team in the NFL

Monday Night Football on the 24th November saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off against the Los Angeles Rams.

However, it was not the play of the teams that night that will forever go down in NFL history. For the first time in the National Football League’s history, an all-Black officiating crew worked a game.

Led by the 17-year veteran Jerome Boger, the team comprised of Barry Anderson, Julian Mapp, Carl Johnson, Dale Shaw, Anthony Jeffries, and Greg Steed.

When asked about leading the first all-Black officiating team, Boger stated: “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”.

The league’s Executive Vice-President of Football Operations, Troy Vincent, called the move “a testament to the countless and immeasurable contributions of Black officials to the game”.

This incredible step forward comes as a result of the NFL vowing to do more to elevate issues of diversity and racial equity. This came after several players criticised the league on social media over their failure to call out racial inequities, including systematic racism and police brutality, following the police killing of George Floyd.

The history-making crew represents just how far the league has come since Burl Toler became the first Black official in any major sport in 1965. Toler was a pioneer, paving the way for individuals such as Johnny Grier, who became the league’s first Black referee in 1988 and more recently, in 2008, Mike Carey, who became the first African-American to lead an officiating crew in a Super Bowl.

At a time where racial issues are at the forefront of everybody’s minds, this is a nice signal that sport is seemingly heading in the right direction.


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Drew Murphy

April 2021
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