Now Yahoo and the New York Times have picked up on the story, dragging out current and former officials who say there was a concerted effort on the part of the NFL to rig the system so that Boger would get the Super Bowl assignment. The league's response? Nuh-uh.
Why would the league want Boger to receive its biggest honor and most visible and choice assignment? There are two theories. One—which the Times and Yahoo articles dance around until the last possible moment—is diversity. Boger ("who is black," the Times notes in the 18th paragraph of a 22-paragraph story) was hired by the NFL under a recruiting program specifically designed to find minority candidates, and will be just the second African-American referee to work a Super Bowl, after Mike Carey in 2008.
Regardless of motivation, the league required multifaceted machinations to get Boger this assignment. They had to clean up his grades, and they had to relax their own rules of eligibility.
After each game, officiating supervisors review the video and assign "downgrades" for blown calls or blatantly missed calls. Boger received eight downgrades over the season, not an unusually high number, but more than enough to disqualify an official from working the playoffs. But refs are allowed to appeal their grades, and Boger appealed all of his—Football Zebras, citing one current and one former official, reports that all eight were overturned and stricken from Boger's record. Yahoo's sources confirm.
Former referee Gerry Austin says going eight-for-eight is unheard of. "If you could get two downgrades changed in the course of the year, you've done real well," he told the Times.