How are refs chosen for the Super Bowl?

The Super Bowl draws a large audience, so it's important for the NFL to have its best officials on the field for the game.

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills
New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills / Bryan Bennett/GettyImages
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NFL officials have a lot of things in common with offensive linemen: they're only mentioned when something bad happens, they're often undervalued and they play a pivotal role in making sure the game goes smoothly.

Each year, the Super Bowl is played by two teams that earned the right to be there. The same applies for NFL officials. With the massive audience the Super Bowl draws, the NFL needs to make sure the rules are enforced properly. That means it's vital to have the best officials on the field.

How is the Super Bowl officiating crew selected?

The NFL's highest-rated official at each position is selected to work in the championship game. This is determined by the league's evaluation system that assesses and grades each official's calls during the regular season. All missed penalties or incorrect calls negatively affect an official's chances to receive a coveted Super Bowl assignment.

That's quite different than how officiating operates during the rest of the season, when each game is officiated by predetermined crews that work together for the entire season. It's not possible to select an entire crew to officiate the championship game since officials must meet certain requirements to be eligible for a Super Bowl assignment.

All members of the Super Bowl officiating crew need at least five years of on-field experience. The head of the officiating crew — the white hat referee — must have at least three years of experience as a referee and must have officiated a playoff game as a referee in a previous postseason. All other members of the Super Bowl officiating crew must have officiated a conference championship game or received on-field assignments in three of the previous five postseasons.

The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs will face each other in Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 11.

The officiating crew for Super Bowl LVIII

The officiating crew for Super Bowl LVIII will be led by referee Bill Vinovich.

Vinovich, 62, is in his 18th season as an official and 15th as a referee. He has had 18 postseason assignments in the past, including three Wild Card Round games, seven Divisional Round matchups and six conference championships. This game will be Vinovich's third Super Bowl assignment. He previously led the officiating crew for Super Bowl LIV — which, coincidentally, was also between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. Vinovich was also the referee for Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.

Umpire Terry Killens and down judge Patrick Holt are officiating the Super Bowl for the first time. Killens, a former linebacker for the Tennessee Titans, is the first person to play in and officiate a Super Bowl. The rest of the crew is comprised of line judge Mark Perlman, field judge Tom Hill, side judge Allen Baynes and back judge Brad Freeman.

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