Ron Torbert, a 12-year veteran NFL official who has been a referee since 2014, will handle his first Super Bowl on Sunday.
Torbert, 58, a Harvard Law School graduate and former lawyer, will be the third Black referee for a Super Bowl. Mike Carey did the game in 2008 and Jerome Boger in 2013. Torbert was a back judge and side judge for four seasons before being elevated to referee.
Assignments for the postseason are given through a league grading system used throughout the regular season.
“I’ve been preparing for this moment for more than 30 years,” he said. “I didn’t always know that’s what I was doing, but every game I worked, every clinic, every training camp and practice that I’ve been a part of, every moment at the gym, every training and scouting video that I’ve ever watched, has helped me get ready for this game.”
Joining Torbert will be umpire Bryan Neale, down judge Derick Bowers, line judge Carl Johnson, field judge Rick Patterson, side judge Keith Washington, back judge Scott Helverson, replay official Roddy Ames, and replay assistant Sean McKee.
Billie Jean King will be joined by team captains of the California School for the Deaf Riverside Cubs, members of the high school girls flag league of champions and girls youth tackle football players from the Inglewood Chargers and Watts Rams for the Super Bowl coin toss.
The NFL will be recognizing the 50-year anniversary of Title IX enacted in 1972 as part of the Education Amendments which, for the first time, provided equal funding for men and women at high schools, colleges and universities that received federal funding.
“It is an honor to stand with these outstanding student athletes and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX on one of the world’s biggest stages,” King said. “It’s hard to understand inclusion until you have been excluded, and I am proud to be part of this year’s Super Bowl coin toss and the NFL’s commitment to bring us together and make us stronger.”
The high school honorary captains are Nadirah Mayrena of Rise Kohyang, Elisheva Ferszt of Yula, Kaylin Harris of Lawndale, Tamaya Hemphill of Inglewood, while youth football honorary captains are Andrea Castillo of the Watts Rams and Giselle Lopez of the Inglewood Chargers.
The team captains of the California School for the Deaf Riverside Cubs are Trevin Enrique Adams, Christian Anakin Jimenez, Jory Valencia and Enos Louis Zornoza.
Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton knows all about playing against great receivers and now he’s tasked with lining up Sunday opposite Cooper Kupp, who led the NFL with 138 receptions, 1,829 yards receiving and 15 touchdown catches while leading Los Angeles to the NFC West title.
“Absolutely. I said it before, I feel like we’re two of the top slots in the game,” Hilton said as he spoke Friday about the challenge of defending Kupp. “What better way to go show it than on Super Bowl Sunday?”
Hilton said Kupp’s ability to pick up yards after the catch is top-notch and he stressed the importance of getting him to the ground quickly to limit the damage.
After beating the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in the AFC championship, Hilton said he and the Bengals’ secondary are comfortable with defending great passing teams.
Ticket demand for Sunday's Super Bowl between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams has begun to spike, with the biggest single-day surge on Thursday: nearly twice the daily sales StubHub had seen in the last week.
Not surprisingly, much of the interest is coming from California buyers, who purchased 30% more tickets in that one day splurge. They have accounted for nearly 75% of new tickets sold over the last three days, and 31% of total sales so far, StubHub reported Friday.
Sales to consumers in Ohio and Kentucky have remained almost completely even over the last three days, but Ohio ranks second in demand at 9%, followed by Florida (4%), Illinois (4%) and Kentucky (3%).
The secondary market “get in price” dropped 9% to $3,000 on Thursday.
“As we have anticipated, we are starting to see the last-minute surge in sales, primarily driven by Californians looking to see their home team play in the Super Bowl," said Adam Budelli, spokesperson for StubHub.
AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner and Simmi Buttar and Andrew Destin, a sports journalism student at Penn State, contributed.
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