Carl Cheffers will serve as the head referee for Super Bowl 51 in Houston, ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert and Football Zebras’ Ben Austro reported Wednesday.
The Super Bowl assignment represents Cheffers’ first since he started officiating games in 2000, but his crew for the Feb. 5 cross-conference showdown will include three officials with experience making calls on the game’s biggest stage:
|Head Linesman||Kent Payne||Super Bowl 45|
|Line Judge||Jeff Seeman||Super Bowl 44|
|Field Judge||Doug Rosenbaum||Super Bowl 45|
|Side Judge||Dyrol Prioleau||—–|
|Back Judge||Todd Prukop||—–|
Source: ESPN.com and Football Zebras
According to Austro, officials selected for Super Bowl duty “must be ranked in the top tier as determined by the senior vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino.”
While Cheffers evidently graded out positively in Blandino’s eyes, his selection figures to raise eyebrows after his crew tagged Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher with a holding penalty that nullified what would have been the game-tying two-point conversion in the fourth quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 18-16 AFC Divisional Round triumph.
“Referee No. 51 shouldn’t even be able to wear a zebra jersey ever again,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said of Cheffers, per Seifert. “He shouldn’t even be able to work at f–king Foot Locker.”
During the 2016 season, Cheffers’ crew called an average of 12.82 penalties per game. That mark fell 0.55 percent below the league average.
By comparison, Cheffers’ crew called 16.33 penalties for an average of 137.13 yards per game throughout the 2015 campaign.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.