TAMPA, Fla. – An all-black squad on duty worked on an NFL game for the first time in league history when the Los Angeles Rams took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night.
Referee Jerome Boger led the crew, including umpire Barry Anderson, judge Julian Mapp, linesman Carl Johnson, side judge Dale Shaw, field judge Anthony Jeffries and back judge Greg Steed.
When the NFL announced last week that the crew was being assembled, league executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent praised the move as “ testament to the countless and immeasurable contributions of black officials to the game, their exemplary performance and the power of inclusion that is the hallmark of this great game. “
Five members of the crew work together regularly. Johnson and Steed joined the group for Monday night’s matchup between NFC playoff contenders.
The crew has 89 seasons of NFL experience together and worked six Super Bowls.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians, who advocated diversity in recruiting across the league, welcomed the decision.
“Too long,” Arians said. ‘I know a lot of those guys. They are great officials. … It’s a historic evening, and I think it’s fantastic.
The first black official in a major sport was Burl Toler, hired by the NFL in 1965.