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Super Bowl referee 2018: Who are Gene Steratore and the other officials?

The veteran referee handled his first official Super Bowl Sunday.

New York Giants v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Gene Steratore has only been an NFL official since 2003, but he’s become a common name among the league’s referees in his 15 years on the job. On Sunday, he’ll handle his biggest assignment yet — Super Bowl 52.

2018’s showdown between the Patriots and Eagles will be Steratore’s first Super Bowl as referee. He’d previously served as an alternate in Super Bowl XLIV. He’ll head a crew that features six other veteran officials who will work to call yet another New England contest right down the middle.

Steratore is perhaps most infamous for being the head official during the Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson catch controversies. He had another potentially tough decision on his hands in Super Bowl 52, when Nick Foles hit Corey Clement at the back of the end zone. The touchdown was held up on review, but it could’ve gone either way, knowing the bizarre catch rules these days.

Who is Gene Steratore?

Steratore began his NFL career as a field judge in ’03 and quickly rose up the ranks to become a referee before the 2006 season. The Washington, Penn. native and umpire Roy Ellison will each be relative newcomers on a well-traveled staff. That pair each has 15 years of NFL experience under their belts; the other five members of the crew have combined for 97 seasons calling pro games. When he’s not on the field calling penalties, he and his brother, Tony — who also works as an NFL back judge — own and operate Steratore Sanitary Supplies.

The NFL isn’t Steratore’s only officiating gig. He also refs college basketball games for the NCAA, specifically for the Big Ten. And it really does run in the family: Steratore’s cousin, Frank Steratore, Jr., referees NCAA basketball and Big Ten football.

Where have I heard his name before this season?

Steratore’s most famous moment from the regular season came in a mid-December showdown between the Cowboys and Raiders. Late in a pivotal game between playoff hopefuls, Steratore was tasked with determining whether or not Dallas had converted a fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak. However, the distance between the nose of the football and the first down marker was nearly imperceptible to the human eye.

Like an evolved human, he turned to a tool to help him; in this case, a folded-up piece of paper:

Steratore’s paper granted the Cowboys the first down. Seven plays later, Dan Bailey’s 19-yard field goal would prove the difference in a 20-17 Dallas victory.

So if any ball spots on the field are too close to call in Super Bowl 52, the league can rest easy knowing it’s got the right man on the field.

But if the catch rule comes into play, expect controversy. Steratore was previously part of the overturned Dez Bryant catch in the playoffs and the Calvin Johnson one that spawned its own rule.

Who will be joining Steratore on the officiating crew?

Six other veteran officials will don their stripes. Here’s the full list.

Super Bowl 52 Officiating Crew

Official Position Uniform Number NFL Seasons Career Playoff Games
Official Position Uniform Number NFL Seasons Career Playoff Games
Gene Steratore Referee 114 15 11
Roy Ellison Umpire 81 15 10
Jerry Bergman Down judge 91 16 10
Byron Boston Line judge 18 23 21
Tom Hill Field judge 97 19 17
Scott Edwards Side judge 3 19 15
Perry Paganelli Back judge 46 20 17