NFL’s first black referee Johnny Grier dies at 74

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.

Johnny Grier chats with Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino during the 1994 NFL playoffs.
Johnny Grier and Brian Billick
Johnny Grier explains a call to Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick during a 2003 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Getty Images
Jim Fassel and Johnny Grier
Giants head coach Jim Fassel complains to Johnny Grier during a 2003 game.
Jeff Zelevanski

New York Post

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