Morehouse Alumnus, Jerome Boger Leads First All-Black NFL Officiating Crew
On Monday, November 23, 2020, Referee Jerome Boger lead the first all-black NFL officiating crew on to the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida.
When referee Boger blew his whistle, this etched their names into African American history. The crew consists of Barry Anderson (umpire), Julian Mapp (down judge), Dale Shaw ( side judge), Anthony Jeffries ( field judge), Carl Johnson ( line judge), and Greg Steed (back judge).
Jerome has officiated in the National Football League since 2004. He has worn uniform number 23 since 2006; before that, he wore uniform number 109. He started in the league as a line judge and was promoted to referee in 2006 after two seasons. Along with Gene Steratore, he was one of two new referees for 2006, replacing retired officials Bernie Kukar and Tom White. Boger became the third African-American referee in the NFL after Johnny Grier (1988), who previously wore uniform number 23, and Mike Carey (1995).
Boger played quarterback at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia as a four-year starter and graduated in 1977. Realizing that he did not have the football skills to make it on a professional level, he decided to get into officiating, allowing him to stay close to the game. He started working high school and recreational league games before moving up to small colleges. He spent 11 years in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and five seasons in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference from 1996 to 2000.
Boger has also served as a referee in Conference USA, Arena Football League, and NFL Europe (where he officiated in World Bowl XIV).
Boger was chosen to be the referee of Super Bowl XLVII, held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on February 3, 2013, only the second African-American to do so behind Mike Carey five years earlier. This caused several other NFL officials to question the leagues' officiating department's grading process, claiming that all of Boger's downgrades during the season were reversed. He was also the alternate referee of Super Bowl XLV, which was held on February 6, 2011, in Arlington, Texas.
First Collegiate All-Black Officiating Crew
According to USA Today, the Big Ten conference assigned an all-black crew headed by referee Larry Smith to officiated its college game between Minnesota and Michigan on October 24, 2020. This was a first for any Power Five conference.