History made with NFL’s first all-Black officiating crew including three women

Dollita Okine December 18, 2023
The game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders was a turning point in the history of NFL officiating. Photo Credit: Twitter, NFL

The game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders was a turning point in the history of NFL officiating. The first all-black on-field and replay crew to officiate a game was led by referee Ronald Torbert, according to The Athletics

Additionally, this was the first time that the three women—Maia Chaka as the line judge, Artenzia Young-Seigler as the replay official, and Desiree Abrams as the replay assistant—worked the game together, with one on the field and two in the replay booth. 

The NFL wrote on Twitter, “History. Tonight, the first ever all-Black on-field and replay crew will officiate the game. It also will be the first time that three women will be on the same crew. #InspireChange.”

As evidenced by the historic game, the NFL has demonstrated a commitment to encouraging inclusion in the spirit of diversity. The “Thursday Night Football” game marked a first after the league stated that a majority of team personnel—51 percent—are persons of color and/or women for the first time in league history. 

There are also five full-time Black team presidents and nine full-time Black general managers. The first all-black crew to officiate an NFL game did so on November 23, 2020, when the Los Angeles Rams played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

The seven-person crew was led by referee Jerome Boger and included Barry Anderson (umpire), Anthony Jeffries (side judge), Carl Johnson (line judge), Julian Mapp (down judge), Dale Shaw (field judge), and Greg Steed (back judge), according to The Athletic.

Johnny Grier was the NFL’s first Black referee. He rose to prominence from field judge in 1988, 68 years after the league’s founding in 1920. Meanwhile, Sarah Thomas became the league’s first female on-field official in 2006, 99 years after the league’s inception.

Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, said during the media session, “We’re focused on working with the clubs to improve diversity up and down the ranks of the NFL in their organizations. It’s really the humans-to-human connection and building relationships that hopefully are long-standing.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: December 18, 2023


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