Former NFL official Bill Leavy, who spent 20 years in the league as a back judge and referee, died on Tuesday, according to Football Zebras. He was 76.
Leavy retired following the 2014 season, taking a supervisory position with the NFL’s officiating department. He remained in that role until his death.
“Bill was one of the great men in our profession and was liked by everyone and respected by every coach,” former NFL umpire Bill Wilson told Football Zebras. “He will be sorely missed.”
Leavy had been officiating Big West games when he was tapped to join the NFL in 1995 after the league added the Panthers and Jaguars as expansion teams. He previously worked as a police officer, firefighter and an agent for the Secret Service.
Leavy officiated two Super Bowls, most notably Super XL between the Steelers and Seahawks. The officiating crew was met with criticism afterward, and Leavy subsequently apologized for mistakes he made during the game.
Throughout his career, Leavy was revered by his peers. After receiving the Art McNally Award in 2019 for demonstrating “exemplary professionalism, leadership, and commitment to sportsmanship,” referee Clete Blakeman offered glowing praise of Leavy, who was his mentor: “The man is irreplaceable in the world of football officiating.”