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Sacco Sez: Official tradition of officials

Tradition is a big part of family life everywhere, and certainly every team in pro football can quickly tell you if they have had father-and-son playing combinations. But this type of connection does not end with players (or even coaches) in uniform.

Officials have traditions too.

Just this week the National Football League announced the officials for Super Bowl LI, and they are referee Carl Cheffers, umpire Dan Ferrell, head linesman Kent Payne, line judge Jeff Seeman, field judge Doug Rosenbaum, side judge Dyrol Prioleau and back judge Todd Prukop.

Combined, these officials have 93 years of experience in the NFL.

Many people do not realize that officials get Super Bowl rings, although theirs are an entirely different design, naturally. But I have talked to many officials, and each is both humbled and proud of his ring or rings and postseason assignments. There are four active sets of brothers officiating in the NFL, and there are currently 14 NFL officials whose fathers also were once NFL officials.

Which brings us to a great Super Bowl connection.

The above mentioned Jeff Seeman, who will be the line judge for the big game in Houston, carries on a rare but significant tradition of father-and-son Super Bowl officials. His father was the late, great Jerry Seeman, whom I was proud to know and who worked as referee for both Super Bowl XXIII and XXV. Those were just two of the 15 playoff games that the senior Seeman was selected to work, and Jerry was also the alternate referee for Super Bowl XIV.

Jerry Seeman was a great referee who eventually moved into the league office as the Supervisor of Officials and became the first NFL official to have his uniform number retired by the league. You might see a lot of numbers running around making calls, but none of us will ever see number "70" do so again.

However, the Seemans are not the only father-son Super Bowl officiating combo, although the list is very short.

Father Dave and son John Parry did so, with Dave being the side judge for Super Bowl XVII and son John working Super Bowl XLVI nearly three decades later. Jerry and Jeff Bergman accomplished this as well, with Jerry working as head linesman for Super Bowls IV and XIII and Jeff getting the nod as line judge for Super Bowl XXXI.

With 14 sons of officials active in the NFL right now, there likely will be more in the future, but it is just as tough to get that assignment as it is for a team to reach the Super Bowl, and just as big an honor, even though often it is only realized and appreciated by family members and close friends.

But while it is a tradition of which fans are less aware, I wanted to take this moment to pay tribute not only to the fathers and sons, but to all the officials who have an enviable but very difficult job of officiating games played by a collection of the greatest football players in the game.

Being selected to work the Super Bowl is a great honor for each of these officials, and just as with players and coaches, a tip of the hat to these individuals who are a vital part of NFL football.

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