Jerome Boger will referee Super Bowl XLVII, but some of his colleagues think he was the wrong choice.
Several officials told Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports that they believe the league office first decided it wanted to give the game to Boger, then changed his grades so that he would come out as the top-rated referee in the league for the 2012 season and therefore earn the Super Bowl assignment.
“You see grades being changed, constantly being changed, only for certain people,” one official told Yahoo! Sports.
Another official said that it’s commonly accepted among the league’s officials that the people who grade the officials play favorites.
“It’s disheartening,” said another official, “and you never think at this level that would happen. It’s the individuals running the show that have created this mess. If you talk to 121 guys, there will be 100-plus who say the system is horrendous.”
In fairness to Boger, it should be noted that we don’t know if these anonymous officials have an axe to grind themselves. And if it’s really true that more than 100 of the 121 officials think the system is broken, then the officials themselves deserve some blame: They shouldn’t have voted to ratify their Collective Bargaining Agreement at the end of the lockout in September if that CBA didn’t fix a broken system.
But something does smell fishy about the way officials are graded. Yahoo Sports confirmed a report from FootballZebras.com that Boger was downgraded eight times for mistakes during the regular season, but that all eight of those downgrades were reversed on appeal. The implication is that the appeals are being handled by a league official who wants to see Boger end up with the highest grade among all the NFL’s referees.
“[Boger] shouldn’t even be eligible for the game,” one official said. “Everybody basically knows what’s happening. You see when grades appear, and when grades mysteriously disappear. Any incorrect call or missed call will disappear for no reason at all.”
NFL spokesman Michael Signora, however, told Yahoo, “There is no merit to the suggestion that Jerome Boger’s grades were treated differently from those of any other official.”
Right or wrong, it’s clear that some officials don’t believe that.