NFL

Whispers about ref stink like fish

Watch: Pereira elicits advice for Jerome Boger from a veteran ref.
Watch: Pereira elicits advice for Jerome Boger from a veteran ref.
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Mike Pereira

Mike Pereira was the NFL's Vice President of Officiating from 2004-09, having spent the five seasons previous to that as the league's Director of Officiating. He also served as an NFL game official when he acted as a side judge for two seasons (1997-98). Follow him on Twitter.

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NEW ORLEANS

Incredible place, incredible food. I've never had a catfish po'boy until Tuesday, and it was scrumptious!

Not only had I never had a catfish sandwich before, but I had never even heard of being "catfished" until Manti Te'o.

And now, Jerome Boger, who was announced Wednesday as the referee for Super Bowl XLVII between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, is unceremoniously being cast by his fellow officials, but this is no movie. It's only a little TV show that is expected to be seen by more than 110 million people all over the world.

Some officials have chosen the honorable path of anonymously questioning Boger's selection by spreading myths and untruths to the media. And, unfortunately, these officials have decided to throw one of their own under the bus, when it's apparent that the real target of their assault is the National Football League.

The officials are still angry over the lockout, when comments were made publicly that demeaned them and everyone else who officiates on the professional level.

I not only know Jerome Boger, but I also hired him, and here's something else I know: He will rise above the fray.

So, does Boger deserve to referee Super Bowl XLVII, or have we been duped to believe he is not qualified and did not earn the assignment?

Well, I'll have a little tartar sauce with my catfish.

Boger finished the season ranked as the No. 1 referee. Not No. 2, 3, 4, or 5, which, by the way, still could have qualified him to referee the Super Bowl. The selection to work the Super Bowl is rotated among the top five officials at each position, and preference is given to those who have not had a chance to work the game previously. This system has been in place for years — it gives more officials a chance to get Super Bowl experience while working the biggest game of the year.

The detractors from within have stated that Boger had eight downgrades dropped during the league's weekly Wednesday review sessions.

What does that mean, and is it true?

Each game played in the NFL is evaluated and graded by an NFL supervisor on Mondays and Tuesdays, and a report is sent out to each crew listing the initial downgrades that have been assigned. The officials then may respond with their input. In the final review that occurs on Wednesday, the evaluating supervisor presents his grades on all major calls and the group will read the response from the officials. It is then that they will vote to leave the grade as is or to drop it. Some downgrades might even be reassigned to another official who might have been responsible.

So what really did happen?

Did Boger get eight downgrades dropped? No, not that many, but, some were. By the same token, 14 of the 17 referees had downgrades dropped.

Did the league predetermine this assignment so they could have an African-American referee a Super Bowl for the second time in history? I sincerely doubt that, although the league, I'm sure, is pleased with this. It's no secret that the NFL has recruited minority candidates to have a more diverse officiating staff.

Did Boger work the required number of postseason games to qualify for the Super Bowl? Yes. It's true that he has not worked a championship game, but he has worked the required number of wild-card and division games to qualify.

Did he qualify or not? I don't have all the facts, and neither do the "deep throats."

But here is what I do know — and believe. There are two ways to challenge playoff assignments: First, the officials' union can file a grievance, which it did every year when I was VP of officiating for the NFL. This year is no different as the union has already filed a grievance.

So if you don't like it, get the books audited. If someone has been wronged, the league will make amends.

Or second, show your disdain for the league and talk anonymously to the media and throw one of your own under the bus to try to embarrass the league. And while you're at it, use a former supervisor who has his own ax to grind after being relieved of his duties midway through last season.

Fact or fiction? You be the judge.

It all sounds fishy to me.

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