American Football Database
Bill Leavy
Nationality United States
OccupationNFL official (1995–Present)

Bill Leavy (pronounced LEE-vee) is an American football official in the National Football League (NFL) since 1995 and is a retired San Jose, California Police Officer and Firefighter, serving for 27 years. As of the 2006 NFL season, Leavy has been assigned to nine playoff games and two Super Bowls in his NFL officiating career. He was selected as a back judge on the Super Bowl XXXIV officiating crew in 2000 and most recently headed up the Super Bowl XL officiating crew as referee in 2006. He wears uniform number 127. Leavy's 2011 NFL officiating crew consists of umpire Darrell Jenkins, head linesman George Hayward, line judge Mark Perlman, field judge Jim Quirk, side judge Keith Parham and back judge Keith Ferguson.


Early years

Leavy is a 1965 graduate of Santa Barbara High School in Santa Barbara, California and a 1970 graduate of San Jose State University in San Jose, California where he earned a degree in law enforcement. Just before earning his degree, he joined the San Jose Police Department in September 1969. During his high school and college years, Leavy's athletic interests included swimming and football.

As a member of the San Jose Police Athletic League (PAL), he was introduced to football officiating by a fellow PAL officer, who was a high school football official. Between the 1970s and 1984, Leavy worked several all-star, playoff, championship games at the high school and junior college levels.


Bill lives in San Jose, California.

Officiating career

Early years

Leavy joined the Big West Conference, a Division I college conference, in 1984. During his 11 seasons in Division I football, he worked four college bowl games (Independence, Freedom, California and Las Vegas).

NFL career

In December 1994, Leavy received a call from then NFL Supervisor of Officials, Jerry Seeman, that he was selected as one of 12 finalists for open positions beginning with the 1995 NFL season. On March 27, 1995, Leavy was hired by the league as a field judge. Leavy's first game was a pre-season matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills at Texas Stadium. For seven seasons, Leavy worked as a field judge and later as a back judge, when the league swapped position names in 1998, before being promoted to referee for the 2001 NFL season. This opportunity at the referee position became available as a result of Phil Luckett returning to his original back judge position due to the time commitment that is involved to be a successful crew chief.

Outside of the NFL, Leavy was hired in 1998 as the Coordinator of Football Officials for the Western Athletic Conference and was appointed Coordinator of Football Officials for the Mountain West Conference in 1999.

Memorable games

Super Bowl XL

Leavy's first Super Bowl as referee did not go unnoticed by the media and fans as several controversial calls were made throughout the game. Seattle coach, Mike Holmgren, at a team rally on February 6 at Qwest Field, criticized the officials as he felt they assisted the Pittsburgh Steelers in winning the Super Bowl saying, "We knew it was going to be tough going against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I didn't know we were going to have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well." [1] The NFL did not fine Holmgren for the remarks.

In response to the criticisms leveled at the officials, the NFL, just two days after the game, released a statement defending the officials' performance. "The game was properly officiated, including, as in most NFL games, some tight plays that produced disagreement about the calls made by the officials," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement.[2]

Mike Pereira, Supervisor of Officials, appeared on the NFL Network show, Total Access, stating that the calls were correct with the exception of the penalty called against Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for an illegal low block in the fourth quarter.[3]

On August 6, 2010, while visiting the Seahawks' preseason training camp for an annual rules interpretation session with the Seattle media, Leavy brought up Super Bowl XL without being asked:[4]

It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game, and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights, and I think about it constantly. I'll go to my grave wishing that I'd been better.... I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn't good enough.... When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It's something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it's difficult.[5]

He never mentioned specifically on which calls he made mistakes.

2011 Divisional Playoff Game (Giants at Packers)

Leavy once again drew controversy during the first quarter of the 2011 NFC Divisional Playoff game against the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers. Packers receiver Greg Jennings caught a pass and appeared to fumble just before he was tackled. It was initially ruled it as a fumble, but after a conference, officials ultimately ruled that Jennings was down by contact.[6] The Giants challenged the call, but after reviewing the play, Leavy announced that the down-by-contact call would stand.[6] Former NFL head of officiating and current Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira was perplexed with Leavy's ruling, and said on the air that he would have reversed it back to a fumble. The league would later issue a statement suggesting that the reason why Leavy did not overturn the down-by-contact rule was primarily because there was no indisputable visual evidence as to whether Jennings' calf touched the ground before he fumbled.[7]



  1. Pasquarelli, Len (2006-02-08). "NFL will review Holmgren comments". ESPN. Retrieved 2006-08-05.
  2. "NFL Notebook: Game 'properly officiated'". Associated Press. 2006-02-08. Retrieved 2006-08-06.
  3. "Official Review" (Real Audio). NFL Network. 2005. Retrieved 2007-09-16.
  4. "Referee of Seattle's Super Bowl Loss Admits Errors". ABC News. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
  5. "Referee of Seattle's Super Bowl loss admits errors'". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 2010-08-06. Retrieved 2010-08-06.[dead link]
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Packers catch a break as Coughlin loses challenge on Jennings fumble". 2012-01-15. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  7. "League explains Leavy’s replay ruling". 2012-01-16. Retrieved 2012-01-17.
  8. Sparrer, Dick (2002-08-28). "Good guys wear white hats". Willow Glen Resident. Retrieved 2006-08-06.
  9. "Skinned alive". Sports Illustrated. 2000-01-12. Retrieved 2006-08-06.

External links

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Bill Leavy.
The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with American Football Database, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.