Note: The following is a guest post from Football-Refs reader Barry
I have followed the assignment of referees to the playoffs since 1985 and all officials since 2002. While I don’t have all the answers and have never verified this with anyone in authority, here is my version of how it is done. It is based upon my complete records since 2002 and comments by Mike Pereira to the NFL Network on the December 30 “Official Review.” If you have other information, please let me know.
Up to and including the 2002 season, all officials were assigned as individuals to all-star crews for all of the playoff games. Presumably, the highest-rated official at each position worked the Super Bowl. Each one also worked one playoff game.
For the 2003 and 2004 seasons, officials were basically assigned by regular season crews, with substitutions for rookie officials and (perhaps) low-rated ones. Eight such crews were assigned to the wild card and divisional playoff games. Then two of these crews, with some substitutions from the other six playoff crews, also worked the conference championships. Every official in the conference championships also worked in the wild card or divisional playoffs. As before, the best official at each position worked the Super Bowl. Every one had worked at least one playoff game, and in a couple of instances (if they were on the right crew) they had worked two.
This is the fourth year of the present system, and I think it works like this:
- The eight highest-rated crews are assigned to the wild card and divisional playoffs, but substitutions are made in three instances: 1) rookie officials; 2) officials who are rated third- or second-best at their position; 3) poorly-rated officials. They are replaced by officials with good ratings from the other nine crews that are not assigned to these rounds.
- The two crews for the conference championships are all-star crews and consist of the third- and second-rated officials at each position. None of these officials have worked in the previous two rounds.
- The Super Bowl officials, as always, are the highest-rated officials at each position for the year. Some have worked in the wild card or divisional playoffs, but not all of them.
- I don’t know how the Pro Bowl officials are selected, but none of them have worked any other postseason games.
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