Football Zebras exclusive
The NFL will audition three officials at the referee position this week. Three current NFL officials will don the white hat for at least one preseason game where the NFL will scout them as potential future referees. Last year, the NFL auditioned three potential officials and John Hussey was promoted to referee this season to replace the retiring Bill Leavy.
It is not clear if the tryouts will be for an entire game or for only the first or second half.
Given the dearth of opportunities for NFL officials to prove themselves as potential referees, these auditions are important both for the NFL officiating office and for the official who hopes to be made a crew chief.
Barry Anderson has been a side judge and a field judge since joining the NFL in 2007. He has collegiate experience at the referee position. Outside of the NFL, Anderson is a builder and developer. He was seen and heard in the NFL Network’s SoundFX in 2013 when he issued a sideline warning on the Raiders bench when they encroached onto the sideline border during the game. Anderson also worked the referee position last preseason.
Anderson is scheduled to work with his regular season crew, headed by Gene Steratore, for the Patriots-Saints game on Saturday night.
Fred Bryan is an umpire on Brad Allen’s crew and is a 7-year veteran of the NFL. Interestingly, Bryan’s last season in the NCAA in 2006 was at the umpire position, so there are no records of him working as a white hat. (Presumably, he did so at a lower collegiate division. We are checking on that.)
Bryan is the superintendent of a juvenile corrections facility near Minneapolis.
Bryan will have Allen’s crew in the Jaguars-Giants game on Saturday night.
Alex Kemp has been a side judge since joining the NFL in 2014. Kemp cut his teeth in the Big Ten conference for several seasons as a side judge and referee. Kemp worked several post-season games as a Big Ten side judge, including the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. Alex is the son of the late NFL side judge and referee, Stan Kemp.
Alex Kemp worked with his 2015 crew chief, Jeff Triplette, in Friday’s Seahawks-Chiefs game.
Images: NFL Films, LinkedIn, Lincoln Journal Star
Bill Vinovich will be the referee for the clash between the Panthers and Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which will greatly help in cementing the playoff landscape of the NFC. Carl Cheffers and his crew have the week off.
In recent weeks, the officiating department has been moving around the assignments of some crews after the schedule has been set.
All games are on Sunday and are listed below based on their impact on the playoff picture. Potential (or clinched) playoff seeds are shown in superscripted numbers, with zeros indicating teams that have not clinched a playoff spot. Times listed are Eastern.
See our partner site, Quirky Research, for more on the tiebreakers in the NFC seeds and AFC seeds.
Sunday, Dec. 31
Game affecting division and wild card
- Panthers2/3/4/5 at Falcons6/0 (4:25 p.m.) — Bill Vinovich
Game to clinch division
- Saints3/4/5 at Buccaneers (4:25 p.m.) — Walt Anderson
Games for wild card qualification
- Bengals at Ravens5/6/0 (4:25 p.m.) — Ron Torbert
- Raiders at Chargers6/0 (4:25 p.m.) — Ed Hochuli
- Bills5/6/0 at Dolphins (4:25 p.m.) — Jeff Triplette
- Cardinals at Seahawks6/0 (4:25 p.m.) — Walt Coleman
- Jaguars3 at Titans5/6/0 (4:25 p.m.) — Tony Corrente
Games with top seed implications
- Bears at Vikings2/3 (1 p.m.) — Craig Wrolstad
- Jets at Patriots1/2 (1 p.m.) — Brad Allen
- Browns at Steelers1/2 (1 p.m.) — Jerome Boger
Game affecting other conference seedings
- 49ers at Rams3/4 (4:25 p.m.) — Terry McAulay
No playoff implications
- Texans at Colts (1 p.m.) — Gene Steratore
- Packers at Lions (1 p.m.) — Pete Morelli
- Washington at Giants (1 p.m.) — John Hussey
- Cowboys at Eagles1 (1 p.m.) — John Parry
- Chiefs4 at Broncos (4:25 p.m.) — Clete Blakeman
End of regular season
NFC tiebreakers entering Week 17
AFC Tiebreakers entering Week 17