List of American Football League officials

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Just as it did in many other innovative ways, the American Football League (AFL, 1960–1969) had a unique take on the uniforms of referees, umpires, line judges, field judges and back judges. With their red-orange stripes, black collars and cuffs, and AFL logos on their shirt fronts, sleeves and caps, they were not only more colorful, but easier to see than those of the other league. They were especially unique when seen on color television, which was also on the rise in the 1960s. Both the National Football League and All-America Football Conference had used colored uniforms in the 1940s.

In his book COLORS, Jim Finks Jr., son of Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Jim Finks, Sr., shows the original uniform of AFL official Jack Reader, who was a back judge in the first AFL game in 1960 and in both the first and third AFL-NFL World Championship games. Reader was in an iconic January 20, 1969 Sports Illustrated photo, signaling a touchdown after Matt Snell's 4-yard plunge against the Colts.

The following list indicates men who were American Football League on-field officials: an important but seldom-credited part of the game. Nine, as shown in the list below, officiated in the American Football League for the entire ten years of its existence, 1960 through 1969. They were: Ben Dreith (FJ, R); Bob Finley (U, R); Hugh Gamber (BJ, FJ); Elvin Hutchison (HL); John McDonough (R); Walt Parker (U); Jack Reader (BJ, R); Al Sabato (HL) and George Young (U).

There were 34 on-field officials in the AFL in 1969, the league's last year of play. 33 of them were good enough to continue to officiate after the merger. One of them was Cal Lepore, now known as "the father of instant replay". He also promulgated the use of replay to review the accuracy of on-field calls, for the evaluation of officials. Another important link from the American Football League to today's professional football.

Name Position College Years Active Number
James Barnhill Referee Marquette 1960-1965 15
Bob Baur Field Judge Ohio 1963-1969 58
Peppy Blount Line Judge Texas 1966-1967 64
Harold Bourne Referee Missouri 1960-1964 12
Gilbert Castree Umpire Virginia 1960-1964 24
Al Conway Umpire William Jewell 1969 27
Art Demmas Umpire Vanderbilt 1968-1969 78
Clyde Devine Umpire Oregon St 1960-1968 20
Ben Dreith Field Judge, Referee Colorado St 1960-1969 53, 12
Ray Dodez Line Judge, Head Linesman Wooster 1968-1969 74
Dick Eichhorst Back Judge Missouri 1968-1969 44
George Ellis -- Akron 1963-1964 9, 44
Bob Finley Umpire, Referee SMU 1960-1969 22, 14
Walt Fitzgerald Referee Boston College 1961-1969 18
John Fouch Back Judge USC 1966-1969 45, 34
Kenny Gallagher Back Judge Oklahoma St 1961-1968 36, 46
Hugh Gamber Back Judge, Field Judge Dubuque 1960-1969 33, 70
Fritz Graf Field Judge Case Western Reserve 1960 55
Gerald Hart Line Judge West Point; Kansas 1968-1969 62
Al Huetter Umpire Columbia 1961-1968 52, 28
Elvin Hutchison Head Linesman Whittier 1960-1969 32, 33
Hunter Jackson Line Judge, Back Judge East Tennessee St 1966-1969 49
Harry Kessel Head Linesman Ohio 1963-1969 34
Bill Kestermeier Back Judge Rose Poly Inst 1969 43
Frank Kirkland Field Judge Cal-Santa Barbara 1963-1969 53
Joe Kraus Head Linesman Hobart 1960-1962 34
Cal Lepore Line Judge, Head Linesman Alabama 1966-1969 32
Charles Liley Field Judge Denver 1960 52
Pat Mallette Field Judge Nebraska 1969 52
Bo McAllister Head Linesman Oklahoma St 1960-1967 35
John McDonough Referee Stanford 1960-1969 11
George McGuane -- Holy Cross 1961-1964 54
Jack McLain Referee Northern Arizona 1960 14
Carl Mellinger Line Judge NJ St Teachers 1966 61
Leo Miles Head Linesman Virginia St 1969 35
Tommy Miller Line Judge Milligan College 1968-1969 67
John Morrow Referee Texas A&M 1960-1962 16
Charlie Musser Field Judge North Carolina St 1965-1969 55
George Parker Back Judge St. Louis 1960 40
Walt Parker Umpire North Texas St 1960-1969 25
Jack Reader Back Judge, Referee Holy Cross 1960-1969 42
Bob Rice Back Judge Denison U 1969 48
Frank Rustich Field Judge Canisius 1961-1968 14, 51
James Ryan Field Judge -- 1960 50
Al Sabato Head Linesman Cincinnati, Xavier 1960-1969 30
Amby Schindler Back Judge USC 1960-1962 43
John Steffen Line Judge Minnesota 1968-1969 61
William Stein -- Georgia Tech 1961-1962 27
Bill Summers Line Judge, Field Judge Notre Dame 1967-1969 57
Paul Trepinski Umpire Toledo 1963-1969 22
Price Truitt Field Judge North Texas St 1960 54
Dick Ulrich Head Linesman Grinnell 1960 54
Jack Vest Referee East Tennessee St 1965-1969 15
Tony Veteri Head Linesman none 1961-1969 26, 36
Aaron Wade Line Judge Los Angeles St 1966-1969 65
Bob Whetstone Back Judge Ohio St 1965-1968 40
Bob Wortman Field Judge Findlay 1965-1967, 1969 54
Bill Wright Line Judge High Point 1968-1969 68
George Young Umpire Georgia 1960-1969 26, 23

Notes:

  • Bob Austin (AFL Supervisor of Officials, 1960–1965)
  • Mel Hein (AFL Supervisor of Officials, 1966–1969)
  • Jack Reader (Officiated the first AFL game in 1960. Ten-year American Football League official, 1960–1969)
  • Jim Tunney received an offer from the AFL to be a referee in 1960, but chose to go to the NFL as a field judge.
  • Years before Pete Gogolak, Fritz Graf was the first "jumper" from the AFL to the NFL.  He was in the AFL in 1960, officiated its first Championship, then went to the NFL in 1961.
  • Jack Reader, who died in 2008, was a ten-year AFL official who worked the league's first game (Broncos-Patriots) on September 9, 1960 and the first Super Bowl.
  • Bob Wortman was the first man to officiate both a Super Bowl and an NCAA basketball championship.
  • Frank Rustich was an AFL line judge and also a boxing referee who officiated at the 1973 Ken Norton - Muhammad Ali Heavyweight Boxing Championship.

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