Dotson’s Note: The NFL usually announces the Super Bowl Referee about a week before the game; and does not reveal to the public the names of the rest of the crew until the day before the game. The reason for the secrecy is another story, but knowing that you Benchwarmers are used to being ahead of the game, here is some inside information for you. Also, I have included a couple of updates on “Deflategate.” Are we having fun yet?
Super Bowl Officials Assigned Bill Vinovich to Referee
Bill Vinovich will be the referee heading the Super Bowl officiating staff on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Ariz. The assignments were officially given to the crew on January 14th. Vinovich worked the Divisional Playoff game between the Ravens and the Patriots January 10th. Each of Vinovich’s crew members worked a Divisional Playoff game, but no more than three appeared on the same crew. Officials in the Super Bowl must be ranked in the top tier as determined by the vice-president of officiating, Dean Blandino. Accuracy percentages are a large part of the ranking scheme, but Blandino indicated there are other factors he considers. In addition, past practice has allowed officials to be selected who have not gotten an assignment, but are near the top rank at their positions.
The crew that has been confirmed for the big game is:
Referee: Bill Vinovich #52, 10 years in the NFL, is an accountant, formerly was an NFL Officiating Supervisor; Bill Shuster, Umpire #129, 15 years in the NFL, is an insurance broker; Headlinesman: Dana McKenzie, #8, 7 years in the NFL, a claims adjuster; Line Judge: Mark Periman # 9, 14 years in the NFL, is a teacher; Field Judge: Bob Waggoner #25, 18 years in the NFL, a retired probation officer; Side Judge: Tom Hill #97, 16 years in the NFL, is a teacher; Back Judge: Terrance Miles #111, 7 years in the NFL, is a quality control manager.
Replay Officials: Mike Wimmer; Replay Assistant: Terry Poulos. Alternates: Referee: Carl Cheffers; Umpire: Fred Baynes; Linesman: Rusty Baynes; Deep Wing: Barry Andnerson; Back Judge: Todd Prukop. Supervisor: Garth DeFelice; Observers: Dean Blandino & Al Riveron.
NFL Officials Positions
--Walt Anderson’s crew checked all footballs before AFC championship game.
--The crew followed standard procedure to prepare footballs for the game.
The past few days have featured media frenzy where the New England Patriots are accused of deflating the game balls to better suit quarterback Tom Brady in the wet weather. The NFL is investigating the matter.
By rule, footballs need to be inflated to between 12½ to 13½ p.s.i. Two hours before the game, the officiating crew checks the footballs provided by the teams. Each team provides 12 footballs to be used when their team is on offense. If the forecast calls for foul weather, each time provides 24 balls to use. The officials test the air pressure and weight of each ball, adding or subtracting air until it meets the specifications. Each crew marks the ball with a special symbol unique to the crew. Ron Winter used to stamp each approved ball with a snowflake, while Gene Steratore labels each football with the initials of his significant other. The imprimatur of Anderson’s crew is an interlocked WA. After each ball is checked in, the bag is returned to each club’s representative and the team has custody of game balls from then on. The NFL employs someone to have custody of the “kicking balls” at all times, but the teams are responsible for their own supply of game balls. The next time the official sees the scrimmage ball is when they toss it in to play.
Any speculation about wrongdoing or potential penalties is just that — speculation. It will be very interesting to see what the NFL concludes and if the league will adopt any changes in who is custodian of the balls between official inspection and the time that ball is put into the game.
NFL releases statement on deflated footballs issue
The NFL issued a statement January 23, 2015, to provide information on the investigation into whether the Patriots intentionally deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts.
THE STATEMENT IN FULL:
“Our office has been conducting an investigation as to whether the footballs used in last Sunday’s AFC Championship Game complied with the specifications that are set forth in the playing rules. The investigation began based on information that suggested that the game balls used by the New England Patriots were not properly inflated to levels required by the playing rules, specifically Playing Rule 2, Section 1, which requires that the ball be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. Prior to the game, the game officials inspect the footballs to be used by each team and confirm that this standard is satisfied, which was done before last Sunday’s game.”
“The investigation is being led jointly by NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul Weiss. Mr. Wells and his firm bring additional expertise and a valuable independent perspective. The investigation began promptly on Sunday night. Over the past several days, nearly 40 interviews have been conducted, including of Patriots personnel, game officials, and third parties with relevant information and expertise. We have obtained and are continuing to obtain additional information, including video and other electronic information and physical evidence. We have retained Renaissance Associates, an investigatory firm with sophisticated forensic expertise to assist in reviewing electronic and video information.”
“The playing rules are intended to protect the fairness and integrity of our games. We take seriously claims that those rules have been violated and will fully investigate this matter without compromise or delay. The investigation is ongoing, will be thorough and objective, and is being pursued expeditiously. In the coming days, we expect to conduct numerous additional interviews, examine video and other forensic evidence, as well as relevant physical evidence. While the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first half, the footballs were properly inflated for the second half and confirmed at the conclusion of the game to have remained properly inflated. The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action. We have not made any judgments on these points and will not do so until we have concluded our investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence.”
“Upon being advised of the investigation, the Patriots promptly pledged their full cooperation and have made their personnel and other information available to us upon request. Our investigation will seek information from any and all relevant sources and we expect full cooperation from other clubs as well. As we develop more information and are in a position to reach conclusions, we will share them publicly.”