NFL

NFL makes history with all-Black officiating crew for Rams-Buccaneers game

An all-Black officiating crew worked an NFL game for the first time in league history when the Los Angeles Rams faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night.

7 members combine for 89 seasons of experience and 5 work together regularly

NFL officials, from left, umpire Barry Anderson, side judge Anthony Jeffries, down judge Julian Mapp, referee Jerome Boger, back judge Greg Steed, field judge Dale Shaw (104), line judge Carl Johnson (101) pose for a photo before kickoff on Monday night. (Jason Behnken/The Associated Press)

An all-Black officiating crew worked an NFL game for the first time in league history when the Los Angeles Rams faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night.

Referee Jerome Boger led the crew, which also included umpire Barry Anderson, down judge Julian Mapp, line judge Carl Johnson, side judge Dale Shaw, field judge Anthony Jeffries and back judge Greg Steed.

When the NFL announced the crew was being assembled last week, league executive vice-president of football operations Troy Vincent hailed the move a "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."

Five members of the crew work together regularly. Johnson and Steed joined the group for Monday night's matchup between NFC playoff contenders.

The members of the crew have a combined 89 seasons of NFL experience and have worked six Super Bowls.

Bucs coach Bruce Arians, who's been supportive of diversity in hiring throughout the league, applauded the decision.

"Way too long coming," Arians said. "I know a lot of those guys. They're great officials. ... It's a historic night, and I think it's fantastic.

The first Black official in any major sport was Burl Toler, hired by the NFL in 1965.

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