Longtime NFL umpire Bill Leavy, who served as an umpire for 20 seasons, has reportedly died at the age of 76, the NFL confirmed Wednesday.
“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Bill Leavy, a longtime NFL umpire and current member of the league’s officiating staff,” Walt Anderson, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, said in a statement. “Bill was an outstanding officer and an even better man. Always kind and thoughtful, Bill has been instrumental in mentoring countless young officers throughout his career. His recognition as an Art McNally Award winner underscores this selfless commitment to the office. His integrity earned him respect at every step of his football journey and the entire officiating community mourns his loss.”
Leavy was a two-time Super Bowl official, serving as a back judge for the 2000 game and leading the officiating team for the 2006 Super Bowl.
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“Bill was one of the great men in our profession and was loved by everyone and respected by every coach. He will be sorely missed,” former NFL umpire Steve Wilson told Football Zebras.
Leavy’s refereeing career began in 1984 at the Big West Conference in college football. He spent 11 seasons working at that conference and was selected to officiate four bowl games.
As the 1995 NFL season began, Leavy received a call from Jerry Seeman, the NFL officials’ assistant, telling Leavy he was one of 12 finalists who would be joining the ranks for the new year. Leavy started out as a field judge in the NFL and never looked back.
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Field judges were changed to back judges in 1998, and Leavy served seven seasons in that position as an NFL official. Leavy was promoted to umpire during the 2001 season.
During that season, the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center left their mark across the country, and sport quickly became a way for some to cope with the tragedy. Leavy was selected to officiate the game between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams in the game after the attacks, and he wore a San Francisco Fire Department hat for the coin toss.
At the time, he called it “my special privilege” to honor responders on this stage because he served 27 years as a firefighter and police officer in San Jose prior to his acting career.
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When he got the call from Seeman to become an NFL official, Leavy was working at a fire station in San Jose.
In addition to his two Super Bowls, Leavy was part of 14 postseason games, including four wildcard rounds, nine divisional rounds and the 2013 AFC Championship game.
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Leavy’s last game was a division round playoff game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos. He announced his retirement in May 2015 and was replaced by John Hussey.
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