NFL appoints first all-Black officiating crew

Los Angeles (AFP) –


The NFL will make history next week when an all-Black officiating crew oversees the Monday night clash between the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the league confirmed Tuesday.

Veteran referee Jerome Boger will head an experienced seven-man officiating team for the game at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium.

"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," NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said.

Boger is one of four members of the team who have officiated in Super Bowls before. The 65-year-old oversaw the 2012 season Super Bowl in New Orleans.

Fittingly, the officiating line-up comes in a game involving teams who have a long history of promoting minorities.

The Rams were the first NFL team to integrate Black players when they signed Kenny Washington and Woody Strode in 1946.

Tampa Bay meanwhile is the first team in league history to feature three Black coordinators on their coaching staff -- Todd Bowles (defense), Byron Leftwich (offense) and Keith Armstrong (special teams).

The Bucs also employ two female assistant coaches in Lori Locust (assistant defensive line) and Maral Javadifar (assistant strength and conditioning).