NFL referee Bill Leavy, who spent 20 seasons officiating, has reportedly died at age 76, according to Football Zebras.
Leavy was a two-time Super Bowl official, working as a backup judge for the 2000 game and leading the officiating team for the 2006 Super Bowl.
«Bill was one of the great men in our profession and was liked by everyone and respected by all the coaches. He will be greatly missed,» former NFL referee Steve Wilson told Football Zebras.
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Leavy’s career as an umpire began in the Big West Conference in college football in 1984. He spent 11 seasons working in that conference and was selected to umpire four bowl games.
As the 1995 NFL season rolled around, Leavy received a call from Jerry Seeman, the NFL’s supervisor of officials, who told him he was one of 12 finalists to join the ranks for the new year. Leavy started out as a field judge in the NFL and has never looked back.
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The field judges were changed to backup judges in 1998, and Leavy spent seven seasons in that role as an NFL official. Leavy was promoted to referee during the 2001 season.
During that season, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center left their mark across the country, and the sport quickly became a way for some to cope with the tragedy. Leavy was chosen to officiate the game between the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams in the game after the attacks, and wore a San Francisco Fire Department cap for the coin toss.
At the time, he said it was «my special privilege» to honor emergency personnel on that stage because he had served as a firefighter and police officer in San Jose for 27 years prior to his refereeing career.
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When he got the call from Seeman to become an NFL official, Leavy was working at a fire station in San Jose.
In addition to his two Super Bowls, Leavy was a part of 14 postseason games, including four wild card rounds, nine divisional rounds, and the 2013 AFC Championship Game.
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Leavy’s last arbitration game was a divisional round playoff game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos. He announced his retirement in May 2015 and was succeeded by John Hussey.