Prior to Sunday’s conference championship games, one participant of Super Bowl LI was already known: the referee. According to footballzebras.com, Carl Cheffers has the honor of calling the NFL title between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.
The website had to say the following about Cheffers, who gives his Super Bowl debut next Sunday:
Cheffers is in his 17th NFL season and his 9th as a referee. He has worked 10 postseason assignments, including 4 Wild Card Playoffs, 4 Divisional Playoffs, and 2 Conference Championships.
One of the playoff games Cheffers has worked was this year’s divisional round game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers. The game saw 10 penalties being called – six on the Chiefs and four on the Steelers – with the most controversial of them wiping out what would have been a successful two point conversion to tie the game.
While Chaffers has been the referee for nine Patriots games over the course of his career, he has not yet worked one of the team’s games this season. The last time he did was the 2015 season opener between New England and Pittsburgh. The Patriots, who won 28-21, were flagged seven times during the contest and lost 64 yards due to penalties.
The Falcons have also not yet seen Cheffers this year. Their last game which he called also happened in 2015, a 48-21 beatdown of the Houston Texans that saw Atlanta receive 10 penalties for a loss of 80 yards. The Super Bowl will be Cheffers’ seventh Falcons assignment.
The entire crew to work this year’s Super Bowl, which as usual for the postseason is an all-star ensemble, looks as follows (original crew of each member in parenthesis):
R 51 Carl Cheffers
U 64 Dan Ferrell (Tony Corrente)
HL 79 Kent Payne (Carl Cheffers)
LJ 45 Jeff Seeman (John Parry)
FJ 67 Doug Rosenbaum (Pete Morelli)
SJ 109 Dyrol Prioleau (Jeff Triplette)
BJ 30 Todd Prukop (Tony Corrente)
Replay: Tom Sifferman
Alternates: Walt Coleman (R), Tony Michalek (U), Mike Spanier (SW), Michael Banks (DW), Greg Yette (BJ)
While the game will be Cheffes’ first Super Bowl assignment, three members of his crew have experience on the game’s biggest stage. Payne and Rosenbaum have worked in Super Bowl XLV, while Seeman has been a member of the crew assigned for Super Bowl XLIV.