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NFL

Super Bowl referee Gene Steratore flubs introduction

Kevin Gorman
| Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, 7:00 p.m.
Referee Gene Steratore looks on before Super Bowl LII between the Patriots and Eagles on Feb. 4, 2018 in Minneapolis.
Getty Images
Referee Gene Steratore looks on before Super Bowl LII between the Patriots and Eagles on Feb. 4, 2018 in Minneapolis.

NFL official Gene Steratore is working his first Super Bowl , and the Washington resident drew a flag before Super Bowl LII even kicked off at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Hershel "Woody" Williams, World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient for his heroism at the Battle of Iwo Jima, was the honorary captain. But Steratore introduced him incorrectly before the coin toss with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles captains.

"It's my pleasure to introduce the honorary captain, Cpl. Willie Williams of the United States Marine Corps," Steratore said, pausing for applause from the crowd, before correcting Wilson's name. "Woody is a Medal of Honor recipient for his service to the United States in World War II."

Steratore then added, "Cpl. Wilson, the honor is yours."

The Patriots won the coin toss, and deferred to the Eagles.

Williams was one of 16 Medal of Honor recipients honored before the game.

Steratore is one of two Western Pennsylvania natives working their first Super Bowl on the Super Bowl LII officiating crew, and both are the sons of longtime officials.

Steratore is in his 15th season as an NFL official. He began as a field judge in 2003, was promoted to referee three years later and has officiated 11 playoff games, including two conference championships, and was the alternate referee for Super Bowl XLIV. His father, Gene Sr., was a college football and basketball official.

Jerry Bergman of the North Hills will be the down judge, a position formerly known as head linesman. Bergman is a 16-year NFL veteran and has worked 10 playoff games. His father, the late Jerry Sr., was a 30-year NFL official who worked four Super Bowls, two Pro Bowls and seven conference championship games and helped create the Professional Football Referees Association and was instrumental in negotiating the first pension for officials.

Under the NFL officiating program's evaluation system, officials have at least five years of NFL experience, have officiated previous playoff assignments and be rated in the top tier at their position to be eligible for the Super Bowl.

The rest of the Super Bowl LII officiating crew: umpire Roy Ellison, line judge Byron Boston, field judge Tom Hill, side judge Scott Edwards and back judge Perry Paganelli, as well as replay official Paul Weidner.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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