We can take from the year 2020 that both the Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter became a global experience.
It is not a coincidence it happened at the same time.
Because of the pandemic people’s attention was focused on racial and social unjust. People learned of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd’s black lives, moreover understanding these are not isolated incidents. These are instances that are happening with greater frequency.
There is more progress needed.
A joyous historical moment involving black lives can shed light on that progress.
For the first time, the league assembled an all-Black officiating crew, led by Jerome Boger, a 17-year NFL official.
The Monday Night Football matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams made history, black history.
The Rams and Buccaneers kick-off at 8:15pm ET on Monday, November 23, 2020 on ESPN.
Boger became just the third Black referee in NFL history when he was promoted from his position as line judge in 2006, with Johnny Grier being the first at the start of the 1988 NFL season.
“I am proud of my heritage and excited about my participation in this historic game,” Boger said. “The opportunity to work with a great group of Black officials and exhibit our proficiency in executing our assignment is something I am really looking forward to.”
R – Jerome Boger
U – Barry Anderson
DJ Julian Mapp
LJ – Carl Johnson
FJ – Dale Shaw
SJ – Anthony Jeffries
BJ – Greg Steed
📺: 8:15 ET on ESPN pic.twitter.com/ykUXFCjO3w
— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) November 24, 2020
The seven-member crew is made up of umpire Barry Anderson, side judge Anthony Jeffries, line judge Carl Johnson, down judge Julian Mapp, field judge Dale Shaw and back judge Greg Steed.
“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,” said Troy Vincent, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations shared in a statement.
Five of the officials work together regularly, with Anderson, Mapp, Shaw, and Jeffries part of Boger’s crew. Johnson and Steed will join the group for Monday’s game.
Here is a black history lesson, Burl Toler paved the way. In 1965, after beginning his officiating career working college games in the San Francisco Bay Area, the NFL hired Toler as a head linesman — making him the first Black official in any major professional sports league.
There is progress. More woman referees will work games. An all-woman officiating crew will work a game one-day. An all-black woman officiating crew will assemble for a game one-day. Inclusion is still needed; inclusion will prevail.