History will be made Monday in the NFL. For the first time, an all-Black referee crew will officiate an NFL game as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the Los Angeles Rams in Tampa. Jerome Boger, a 17-year league veteran, will serve as head referee, assisted by six other Black officials: umpire Barry Anderson, down judge Julian Mapp, line judge Carl Johnson, field judge Dale Shaw, side judge Anthony Jeffries, and back judge Greg Steed, per USA Today. The outlet notes the officials were pulled from various crews, "allowing the league to make a social statement." NFL executive vice president of football operations, Troy Vincent, says the 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."
The teams themselves evince a history of inclusion. Los Angeles was the first to reintegrate in 1946 after a ban on Black players, per NFL.com, while Tampa Bay is the first team in NFL history with three Black coordinators (Todd Bowles, defense; Byron Leftwich, offense; and Keith Armstrong, special teams), as well as two female assistant coaches (Lori Locust, assistant defensive line; and Maral Javadifar, assistant strength and conditioning). Monday's game follows a history-making Super Bowl, which saw five Black officials of seven take to the field for the first time, per NBC News. Last month, history was made in the NCAA, when an all-Black crew of 11, including one woman, officiated a game between the Minnesota Gophers and Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten. It was the first time such a crew officiated a Power Five football game, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune. (Read more NFL stories.)