The Wolfpacker

January 2021

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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50 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY TIM PEELER F or a school with agricultural and me- chanical roots, NC State rarely gets the credit it deserves for advancing racial equity in college and professional athletics. Here's a little tidbit you can add to what has be- come a long list of strides made by NC State students and graduates in their careers. Former NC State football player Barry Anderson was a hand-selected member of the first all-Black NFL officiating crew, which worked the Monday Night Football game between Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 23, 2020. The NFL hailed it as a ground- breaking achievement. "This historic week 11 crew is a testament to the countless and immeasurable contributions of Black officials to the game, their exemplary performance and to the power of inclusion that is the hall- mark of this great game," NFL ex- ecutive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said. It did take the unusual circum- stances of a worldwide pandemic for the all-Black crew to happen. Instead of grouping its seven- person crews together for the en- tire season, the NFL has assigned games based on geography to reduce travel and allow current officials to work games closer to their homes when possible. Anderson, an umpire, is already one of five Black members of referee Jerome Bo- ger's crew, but two others were added for the game to have an entire seven-person team of African-American officials, with side judge Anthony Jeffries, line judge Carl Johnson, down judge Julian Mapp, back judge Greg Steed and field judge Dale Shaw. "This historical moment is an opportunity for me to pay homage," Anderson said in a pregame promotional video by the NFL. (League rules prohibit media interviews with officials until after the regular season and playoffs end.) Is it a major stride? It's not necessarily on the same level as NC State contributing the first two African-American student-athletes in an Atlantic Coast Conference-sponsored event (Irwin Holmes and Manuel Crockett), the first Black captain of a varsity team sport (Irwin Holmes) and the first Black member in a southern school marching band (Walter Holmes), or participating in the first NCAA men's championship basketball game with 10 Black starters (1983). It is, however, like NC State graduate Russell Wilson becoming the second Black quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl title — it's significant because it de- creases the rarity of such events. An NFL official since 2007 — when the league made a concerted effort to hire more minority officials under the guidance of the McNally Committee — and a designated full-time official since 2017, Anderson has had, unlike most of us, a good year in 2020. He served as the umpire for Super Bowl LIV in Miami earlier this year, when the Kan- sas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20. It was just the third game in NFL his- tory that had a majority Black officiating crew. Working a Super Bowl is a big deal in the NFL's merit-based system, which uses the highest-ranked official at each position to work the league's premier game and the world's most-watched sporting event. It was Anderson's first on-field duty in a Super Bowl. (He served as an alternate in an ear- lier Super Bowl.) Anderson, an Atlanta-area builder and developer, is one of 40 African-Americans on the roster of 122 NFL officials. Another African-American NC State graduate, Pat- rick Holt, is in his second season as an NFL down judge, after a long career as a Big Ten official. Holt, a native of Fayetteville who earned a degree in accounting in 2005, did not play football at NC State. Anderson is a native of Chamblee, Ga., who came to NC State as a walk-on defen- sive back for head coach Dick Sheridan. He quickly earned a scholarship after playing in eight games as a true freshman, then played in all 11 contests as a sophomore. Anderson played cornerback for the Wolf- pack, stepping into a starting posi- tion in 1989 when All-American Fernandus Vinson moved to free safety. His senior season, when the Pack posted a 7-5 record with an appearance in the Copper Bowl, Anderson had two interceptions and a team-high 13 passes broken up. As the team's primary punt returner, Anderson also averaged 6.8 yards on his Atlantic Coast Conference-leading 30 returns. He helped save the Wolfpack's first two wins of the season when he stopped Maryland running back Ricky Johnson on a failed two-point conversion in a season- opening 10-6 win over the Terps and knocked the ball out of Geor- gia Tech wide receiver Ricky Steagall's hands on the 21-yard-line, as the Jackets were driving for a go-ahead touchdown with just six minutes to play. Anderson got involved with officiating thanks to his father-in-law shortly after his NC State career ended. It was a way to make some extra money. "As a player, you always think of the of- ficials as the bad guys," Anderson told former teammate Chris Williams in a 2019 interview. "There is no way I ever thought I would be transitioned into the black-and-white stripes. "As things progressed, I just started getting opportunities to work high school, college and [eventually was] on the NFL radar for NFL Europe and Arena Football. In 2007, the NFL hired me as a down-field judge." And he's made the most of all his oppor- tunities, straight into the history books. ■ Tim Peeler is a regular contributor to The Wolfpacker and can be reached at Anderson (far left) came to NC State as a walk-on defensive back under head coach Dick Sheridan, quickly earned a scholarship and has been an NFL official since 2007. PHOTO COURTESY NC STATE ATHLETICS PACK PERSPECTIVE Former Football Player Barry Anderson Makes History With The NFL's First All-Black Officiating Crew

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