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Our History: By the Numbers

In 1942, the NFL began assigning numbers to its officials, without regard to position or seniority. 

Here, we honor our NFL officials, past and present, by highlighting them according to the numbers they wore on the field. 

Many thanks to Jerry Bergman, Fritz Graf, Dick Dolack, Jack Fette and Saleem Choudhry at the Pro Football Hall of Fame for their assistance in the development of this record.


In 1947, the Back Judge position was added.  

In 1965, the Line Judge position was added and the red and white flag was replaced with a yellow flag.  

In 1978, the Side Judge position was added.  

In 1998, the Field Judge and Back Judge names were switched.

In 1999, Replay was made a permanent part of NFL game day officiating.

In 2017, the Head Linesman position was renamed as Down Judge.


Years listed indicate NFL service, not necessarily the years the number was worn. For additional details, see archive here.

"A" denotes an AFL official: When the NFL and the AFL merged in 1970, the senior official retained his original number

Gray text denotes a duplicate number for a given year: From 1979-1981, officials were assigned numbers 1-25, by position. 

"AA" denotes the All-American Football Conference (1946-1950). 

* indicates deceased.  

No. 1

Scott Novak, FJ, 2014-present

No. 2

Bart Longson, LJ, 2015-present

Billy Smith, BJ/Replay, 1994-2013

Sammy Weiss*, R, 1942-1947

No. 3

Scott Edwards, FJ, 1999-present

Van Golmont, SJ/BJ, 1991-1996

Boyce Smith*, LJ, 1981-1988

Don Porter, BJ/LJ, 1981-1988

Jack Vest*, R, 1965-1972 (A: 1965-69)

Bill Downes*, R, 1941-1954 

Bobbie Cahn*, R, 1921-1942

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