The Official Story
The ultimate on-field authority in Super Bowl XXXVIII will be referee Ed Hochuli, who has worked one other title game (XXXII, Broncos-Packers). "I've never seen a crew call a perfect game," says Mike Pereira, the NFL's director of officiating, "but I've never seen a team play a perfect game either. If a crew makes three mistakes out of 160 plays—unless the mistake is on a game-deciding play—then it has done a very good job." The crew for the Eagles-Falcons game on Nov. 2 was in position when this photograph was taken. Here is each official's responsibility, with the names of the men who will work this Sunday's game.
14th NFL season
Positioned 10 to 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage and just to the quarterback's right (or to the left if the passer islefthanded), he watches for illegal procedure in the backfield. After the ball is snapped on passing plays, he watches the tackle on the head linesman's side, then shifts his focus solely to the quarterback. He is responsible for flagging all penalties involving the quarterback, including intentional grounding. In kicking situations, he watches for infractions against the kicker or punter. He also has the final say on all decisions in which there is a disagreement among crew members. The referee is the CEO: During the week he critiques the work of each of his crew members by analyzing the previous week's game tapes, then oversees the Saturday organizational meeting. "He's in charge of everything those guys need to learn and do on and off the field," says Pereira.
18th NFL season
He positions himself 20 yards downfield from the line judge. As with the side judge, he must sprint on longer plays and get into position to determine whether a ballcarrier has crossed the goal line. "The field judge and the line judge do a lot of running," Pereira says. He's a key figure in determining pass interference, while focusing on the receiver split the widest to his side of the field. Along with the back judge, he lines up under the goalpost to rule on field goal and extra-point attempts.