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Game officials chosen for Super Bowl

Game officials chosen for Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) In a season that began with criticism of replacement refs, the NFL found itself dealing with questions Wednesday about the qualifications of its lead official for the Super Bowl.

Jerome Boger, a member of NFL officiating crews for nine years, will be the referee Sunday in his first NFL title game amid accusations by a former official-turned-broadcaster that the league doctored his rating.

Boger has worked four divisional playoff games, including the San Francisco 49ers' victory over Green Bay this year. He entered the league as a line judge in 2004, and was promoted to referee in 2006. He is only the second black referee to work the title game, following Mike Carey five years ago.

His impending selection, which was formally announced Wednesday, was criticized earlier this week by Jim Daopoulos, who was quoted in The New York Times as saying the grading of some officials, including Boger, was altered.

Daopoulos worked 11 years as an on-field official and 12 years as a supervisor before joining NBC as an analyst.

``I'm looking at the seven guys who are working in the Super Bowl, and to be quite honest, several of them should not be on the field,'' Daopoulos told the Times.

Daopoulos told the paper he believed the league predetermined who would work the Super Bowl.

The league and the referees' union have denied such claims, citing the evaluation process. Ray Anderson, NFL executive vice president of football operations, called the allegations ``patently false and insulting to Jerome Boger.''

Attempts to reach Boger were unsuccessful. The NFL does not make officiating crews available before games.

Under the NFL officiating program's evaluation system, the highest-rated eligible officials at each position are chosen for the Super Bowl. The officials must have at least five years of NFL experience and previous playoff assignments.

The other game officials announced Wednesday are Darrell Jenkins (umpire), Steve Stelljes (head linesman), Byron Boston (line judge), Craig Wrolstad (field judge), Joe Larrew (side judge) and Dino Paganelli (back judge).

Boger's selection was applauded by the NFL Referees Association and the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a group of minority coaches, front office, scouting and gameday NFL officials.

``This is a well-deserved honor for each member of the crew,'' said Tim Millis, NFLRA executive director. ``The Super Bowl XLVII crew, led by referee and crew chief Jerome Boger, all had an excellent 2012 season.''

John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, called the criticism ``unfair, inaccurate and offensive.''

He said the league has ``an elaborate system of checks and balances, and changes to the grading only occur after careful review and agreement by nine supervisors.''

``There is an appeal process,'' he said. ``The final scoring is calculated by an outside vendor. Tampering with Boger's grades so that he would be the top referee did not happen and could not happen. After a 17-week season, Jerome came out No. 1 in the scoring system fair and square. He earned the right to be the Super Bowl referee.''

Boger worked the next-to-last game of the season between the Raiders and Panthers in Carolina. During that Panthers victory, quarterback Cam Newton bumped Boger while disputing a call. Newton was penalized but not ejected because Boger said he didn't feel the bump was enough to warrant an ejection.

``It wasn't of a malicious nature,'' Boger said at the time.

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Ravens are releasing safety Tony Jefferson after three seasons in Baltimore

Ravens are releasing safety Tony Jefferson after three seasons in Baltimore

The Ravens are releasing safety Tony Jefferson after he spent three years in Baltimore, the team confirmed Friday.

The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport was first with the news.

“This is the worst part of this business,” general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement released by the team. “Tony is the consummate teammate and someone who is respected by everyone for his leadership, determination, humility and toughness. He’s a friend to all and a true Raven.

"We know he’s going to beat this injury, and we will be cheering for him all along the way. We wish the very best to Tony and his family.”

 

 

The safety suffered a knee injury against the Steelers in Week 5 and was out for the remainder of the season. He was replaced by Chuck Clark, who shined in his new role and received a three-year contract extension on Monday as a result. 

The Ravens will save $7 million by releasing the 28-year-old safety. He originally had a cap hit of $11.65 million for the 2020 season and will have a dead cap hit of $4.65 million. 

Jefferson started each of the 35 games he played in Baltimore and registered a total of 174 tackles and two interceptions across his three seasons. He played nearly every defensive snap before his injury, only coming off the field during the blowout over the Dolphins in Week 1. 

He spent the first four seasons of his career in Arizona before he left for Baltimore and a four-year, 34 million dollar contract. 

According to overthecap.com, the Ravens will be left with a touch over $31 million in cap space after Jefferson’s release. In an offseason with Matthew Judon as a free agent, Jefferson’s release gives them a little bit more flexibility with their offseason plans. 

The Ravens now have Earl Thomas and Clark as the team’s two top safeties, but there are still questions that persist for the depth at that position with Jordan Richards, who recently signed a one-year contract extension, and DeShon Elliott as the team’s backups currently under contract. Brandon Carr, who played safety down the stretch for the team, has a team option for 2020. 

While the safety position certainly isn’t a need for the Ravens at this juncture, there will almost assuredly need to be some younger talent added to the position. 

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Ravens offensive lineman James Hurst suspended for violating NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy

Ravens offensive lineman James Hurst suspended for violating NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy

The Ravens will be without one of their backup offensive linemen to start the 2020 season, as James Hurst was suspended by the NFL for four games without pay after he violated the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Hurst made two starts and appeared in all 16 games for the Ravens last season. He played a total of 194 offensive snaps as a utility offensive lineman, predominantly used as a swing tackle and offensive guard.

Hurst, 28, who signed a four-year contract extension with the Ravens in 2018, is owed $8 million in base salary over the next two seasons, both of which carry a cap hit of $5.25 million.

He also has a dead cap hit of $2.5 million in 2020 and 1.25 in 2021, should the team decide to move on from the former North Carolina Tar Heel. The team would save 2.75 million dollars in 2020 should they release him.

Hurst has played 90 total games in his career in six years in the NFL, all of which were with the Ravens. 

The offensive line is slowly becoming more of a need for the Ravens with Hurst’s suspension. That’s in addition to Matt Skura’s recovery from a knee injury and the potential of Marshal Yanda’s retirement.

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