When the New England Patriots will square off against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, they will face an unfamiliar opponent as the two teams last met during the 2015 season. The AFC champions will, however, see a familiar face on the field after all as Gene Steratore has been assigned to officiate the big game.
Officiating experts Football Zebras had to say the following about the referee:
This will be Steratore’s first Super Bowl assignment. [...] Steratore, 54, is in his 15th season and 12th as referee. This is his 12th postseason assignment, including 3 Wild Card Playoffs, 6 Divisional Playoffs, and 2 Conference Championships.
Steratore is no stranger to the Patriots: Over the course of his career as a referee, he worked a total of 17 New England games. The Patriots are 12-5 with him at the whistle, getting penalized an average of 5.1 times per game for a loss of 42.9 yards. The Eagles, for comparison, have an 11-3 record when Steratore is the referee and on average get flagged 5.5 times resulting in 42.3 yards worth of penalties.
So far this season, Steratore has called two Patriots games: He was the referee for both the team's week 7 victory against the Atlanta Falcons and the week 13 road win versus the Buffalo Bills. The veteran flagged New England eight and nine times, respectively, costing the Patriots 65 and 66 yards as a result.
Steratore also was the referee for one prior meeting between the Patriots and the Eagles: During week 12 of the 2007 season, when New England defeated Philadelphia 31-28 at Gillette Stadium, he called seven penalties against the home team for a loss of 44 yards and three infractions against the visitors, who lost 18 yards because of them.
The game’s entire crew of officials – as usual an all-star ensemble based on a regular season grading system – looks as follows (original crew of each member in parenthesis):
R 114 Gene Steratore
U 81 Roy Ellison (Gene Steratore)
DJ 91 Jerry Bergman (Terry McAulay)
LJ 18 Byron Boston (Walt Anderson)
FJ 97 Tom Hill (Brad Allen)
SJ 3 Scott Edwards (Ron Torbert)
BJ 46 Perry Paganelli (John Parry)
Replay: Paul Weidner
Alternates: Craig Wrolstad (R), Ruben Fowler (U), Ed Camp (short wing), Jimmy Buchanan (deep wing), Greg Steed (BJ)
The NFL opted to assign an experienced crew for the most important game of the year. While Steratore has not yet called a Super Bowl, Football Zebras' Cameron Filipe notes that five of his referees have officiated a title game before for a combined seven appearances on the sport's biggest stage. This makes Steratore's crew the most experienced since Super Bowl XXXVIII between the Patriots and the Carolina Panthers.