UDC: “We Are Black History”  Johnny Grier

UDC: “We Are Black History” Johnny Grier

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UDC: “We Are Black History”

Johnny Grier

UDC Alum – First African-American Referee in the History of the NFL

For 23 years, Johnny Grier did what he loved best – officiated football. He is the first African-American referee in the history of the National Football League (NFL) from 1981 to 2004.

He began in the NFL as a field judge before making history with the start of the 1988 NFL season. Grier was also the first African American to officiate a championship game in 1988 — Super Bowl XXII, which was the same game in which Doug Williams became the first African-American quarterback to win the Super Bowl.

On the field, Grier wore uniform number 23, which is now worn by Jerome Boger, another African-American referee.

A proud graduate of the University of the District of Columbia, Grier earned his BBA in 1987 and Master’s degree in 1993.

Grier began officiating football at the age of 18 and started as a high school football official in 1965. He later moved on to college football in 1972, and eventually the NFL in 1981.

His career ended abruptly during the 2004 NFL season when he was forced to retire due to a leg injury suffered during a series of games.

Grier now serves as an officiating supervisor for the NFL and previously served as Supervisor of Football Officials for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).

To learn more, follow the links below:

JET Magazine


Johnny Grier talks about his career in the NFL https://youtu.be/c3xx1gougng

Grier discusses the changes he’s seen in the NFL, the physical risks of officiating and what it’s like to officiate in the Super Bowl.