The NFL has just announced the lead referee for the upcoming Super Bowl in Las Vegas, and that will be Bill Vinovich. This will be the third Super Bowl he’s officiated throughout his tenured career in the league, and he’ll work alongside an “all-star” group.
Considering that the league picks the officials for the Super Bowl based on merit, the entire crew will be a mix-and-match of different officials who have been great at their jobs. Most of these referees aren’t likely to be questioned by the casual fan, though the lead official will take on the brunt of the controversy. Vinovich, in particular, isn’t one to avoid controversy at all costs.
Some people, especially New Orleans Saints fans, might remember Bill Vinovich from the 2019 NFC Championship game between the Saints and the Los Angeles Rams. Vinovich was the lead referee on the crew that missed arguably the most blatant pass interference call of all time. There was even a mass petition to replay the game over that missed call. It was a missed call that cost the Saints an opportunity to make it into the Super Bowl and was the last time they’d been that far in the postseason. For anybody who watched that game and got heavily invested in it, Vinovich might still be the most hated referee in the league.
However, that didn’t stop him from getting this new gig as the lead referee. The remainder of their crew for the Super Bowl will go like this. Umpire Terry Killens, line judge Mark Perlman, back judge Brad Freeman, replay official Mike Chase, down judge Patrick Holt, field judge Tom Hill, and side judge Allen Baynes. Again, these names won’t be instantly recognizable as the lead official is the only one making the calls on the field for everybody to see. It’s also got referees from all sorts of crews officiating games this season so that we won’t be getting one particularly horrible group.
At the end of the day, though, referees might not even matter to fans watching the Super Bowl. The only reason they’ve become such a story as of late is their involvement, or lack thereof, in which the team comes out on top. For anybody deep into sports betting, figuring out who might be the lead referee might change your mind on many things. For example, the lead referee for the AFC Championship game was recently announced. That official and his crew have resulted in the home team winning just 40 percent of the time. That number for the remainder of the official crews in the league is 55%. Let’s hope Vinovich and his team can bring us through the entire game with a clear winner emerging, with no controversy or asterisk alongside it. If that happens, we are in for a fun time in a few weeks.