Johnny Grier, the first black referee in NFL history, has died at age 74.
Grier appeared in NFL games from 1981 to 2004 and was a court judge at Super Bowl XXII. He became the first black umpire in league history in 1988.
NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent announced the news on Wednesday.
“Johnny Grier, the NFL’s first black umpire and grounds judge for Super Bowl XXII, was a trailblazer who paved the way for those in the field of NFL umpiring and beyond,” Vincent tweeted.
Grier, who began refereeing football while stationed in Louisiana with the Air Force, worked high school and college games before joining the NFL.
In 2006, referee Jérôme Boger changed his number to 23 in tribute to Grier.
New York Post