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Super Bowl LVIII: Officials Profiles

How the officials performed against the Denver Broncos, and what to expect from them in the 2024 Super Bowl.

NFL: JAN 13 AFC Wild Card - Dolphins at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Here are the officials that get the honor and prestige of working the biggest sporting event of 2024... Super Bowl LVIII.

Referee Bill Vinovich

Denver saw Bill Vinovich twice in the 2023 season, in Week 1 against the Raiders and in Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills. An official for 18 years, Vinovich has earned 18 post-season assignments, including two previous Super Bowls and 6 conference championships. This season he worked the divisional playoff game between the Lions and the Buccaneers. In his two Denver games, I complemented Vinovich for his excellent announcements, but questioned his leadership. His crew lacked consistency and confidence, and I feel like the NFL has allowed Vinovich to have such a distinguished career because they have prioritized his excellent personal performance over his leadership skills. Vinovich and his crewmates had the lowest number of holding calls in the league, and his 4 roughing the passer penalties were the second lowest in the league.

Umpire Terry Killens

Denver saw Terry Killens twice this year, in Week 6 against the Chiefs and in week 18 against the Raiders. A fifth year official, Killens has earned post-season assignments every year he was eligible. This is his first year of Super Bowl eligibility. This season he worked the divisional playoff game between the Chiefs and Bills. I enjoyed his judgment and activity this year, and while I did not have Killens ranked quite as high as the NFL seems to have, he was certainly a higher quality official. Killens was around the league average for penalty calls. A former NFL player for the 49ers, I predict the broadcast will mention this fact.

Down Judge Patrick Holt

Denver saw Patrick Holt twice this year, in Week 6 against the Chiefs and in week 18 against the Raiders. A fifth year official, Killens has earned post-season assignments every year he was eligible. This is his first year of Super Bowl eligibility. This season he worked the divisional playoff game between the Chiefs and Bills. I had Holt ranked highly from my positional rankings and thought he was a good official.

Line Judge Mark Perlman

Denver saw Mark Perlman twice in the 2023 season, in Week 1 against the Raiders and in Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills. An official for 18 years, Vinovich has earned 18 post-season assignments, including two previous Super Bowls and 6 conference championships. This season he worked the divisional playoff game between the Lions and the Buccaneers. Perlman has announced his retirement and this Super Bowl will be his final game. In his two Denver games, I was unimpressed with Perlmans communication and spotting. I considered him to be below what I liked in officials and thought his teamwork was of particular concern.

Field Judge Tom Hill

Denver did not see Tom Hill officiate during the 2023 NFL season. An official for 25 years, Hill has worked 26 postseason games, including 3 Super Bowls and 9 conference championships. This season he worked a divisional playoff game between the Texans and the Ravens. Hill has announced his retirement and this Super Bowl will be his final game. His crew called the most defensive pass interference and holding calls during the regular season.

Side Judge Allen Baynes

Denver saw Allen Baynes twice in the 2023 NFL season, against the Jets and against the Lions. An official for 16 years, Baynes has worked 14 postseason games, including 4 conference championship games. This season he worked the divisional playoff game between the Ravens and the Texans. While I was deeply critical of his crews performance in their games against the Broncos this year, I had highlighted Baynes as an impressive official of a higher quality than his crewmates. The deep officials of his crew called an average number of penalties during the regular season.

Back Judge Brad Freeman

Denver did not see Brad Freeman during the 2023 regular season. An official for 10 years, Freeman has worked 11 playoff games, including two championship games. This season he worked the divisional playoff game between the Buccaneers and the Lions. The deep officials of the crew were in the middle of the pack when it came to penalties during the regular season.

Official Review

Super Bowls are supposed to have the best officials. However, the NFL has occasionally been credibly accused of putting weight on the scales in deciding the assignments for the most prominent football game of the year. Sometimes this has been to advance a particular official (such as may have happened 11 years ago when Jerome Boger was assigned to referee Super Bowl in the midst of a somewhat middling officiating career).

This year the biggest question mark is an “official” who will not be on the field – Replay Assistant Jack Persampire. Persampire could work out great, but his appointment as Replay Assistant is unusual. First, he is a non-merit selection. He did not work as a replay assistant during the 2023 season, instead serving as NFL head of analytics. In previous Super Bowls, the replay assistant has been the NFL head of instant replay, who does not work a crew in the regular season, but works in the replay field. This is an interesting departure from form, and it has risks.

Prediction

Officials tend to call fewer penalties in the post-season and especially in the Super Bowl than during the regular season. The only place where these officials were at league average in the regular season for penalties was in penalties in the secondary on passes. If they throw a lot of flags, I would not be surprised to see those come out on deep balls. I would not expect a ton of penalties in this game.