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The Super Bowl is still over two weeks away, but we already know it will likely be a tough watch. And that has nothing to do with the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs or Cincinnati Bengals vs. the Philadelphia Eagles or San Francisco 49ers. The reason the biggest sporting event of the year could be a slog is due to the NFL referee in charge of the proceedings. The NFL announced the crew for the Big Game, and at the helm is Carl Cheffers, who calls more penalties than any other official in the league.

The Super Bowl NFL referee called more penalties than anyone else in 2022 

When the Chiefs, Bengals, Eagles, and/or 49ers take the field in Arizona on Super Bowl Sunday, they will do so under the watchful eye of NFL referee Carl Cheffers.

Cheffers started officiating NFL games in 2000 after stints in the Western Athletic Conference and Pac-10 in the college ranks. From 2000-08, the official was a side judge under retired ref Larry Nemmers.

In 2008, Cheffers got his own crew, officially becoming an NFL referee.

This season, Cheffers’ crew called the most penalties in the NFL by a double-digit margin. According to, the Carl Cheffers-led bunch threw 214 flags this season, 11 more than Brad Allen’s crew with 203. They also assessed the most penalty yards (1,869), which is 89 more penalty yards than Shawn Hoculi’s officials.

On average, Cheffers and company threw 14.33 flags per game, with 5.71 on the home team and 6.88 on the away side. That discrepancy isn’t quite as bad as Allen’s group, which has a 5.00/6.94 split.

Carl Cheffers has been the NFL referee who has called the most penalties in the last two seasons, and he was second in 2020.

The rest of Cheffers’ Big Game crew — which is not his entire regular season crew — consists of umpire Roy Ellison, down judge Jerod Phillips, line judge Jeff Bergman, field judge John Jenkins, side judge Eugene Hall (the only regular member of Cheffers’ crew), back judge Dino Paganelli, and replay official Mark Butterworth.

Carl Cheffers’ Super Bowl history

NFL referee, Carl Cheffers, NFL, Super Bowl
Carl Cheffers | David Eulitt/Getty Images

Carl Cheffers’ history as an NFL referee in the Super Bowl is fascinating. He’s previously officiated Super Bowls 51 and 55.

Super Bowl 55 was in 2021, at the end of the 2020 season. That Big Game took place in Tampa Bay, Florida, and saw Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9.

Cheffers being the NFL referee in this game is notable as his squad called eight penalties for 95 yards on the Chiefs in the first half, which are both Super Bowl records.

The time before that was even more interesting, and it also involved Tom Brady.

Super Bowl 51 took place in February 2017, at the culmination of the 2016 NFL season. This game matched Brady’s New England Patriots against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. As most NFL fans remember, this game went down in history as the biggest Super Bowl comeback of all time, as Brady and company erased a 28-3 Falcons lead to come back and win 34-28 in the first and still only overtime Super Bowl.

So, there’s a good chance a Carl Cheffers Super Bowl could be completely unwatchable (like 51), or all the penalties could lead to a historic game. Let’s hope for the latter.


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