NFL official Bill Leavy, best remembered for serving as the referee during the controversial Super Bowl XL, has died at 76.
A cause of death was not given.
“Saddened to hear of the loss of Bill Leavy,” former official and CBS analyst Gene Steratore said on Twitter. “Bill was an excellent referee and just a joy to be around. Life is just too short. He was a great mentor and friend. Rest in Peace Bill.”
Leavy worked in the NFL from 1995 to 2014, where he officiated in two Super Bowl games including the matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks at Super Bowl XL in 2006.
The crew was criticized for several calls against Seattle, including a holding penalty negating a completion that would have put the ball at the Steelers’ one-yard line.
He also penalized quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for an illegal low block following an interception, giving the Steelers 15 yards.
Pittsburgh won the game 21-10.
“It was a tough thing for me. I impacted the game,” Leavy said in 2010. “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.”
Leavy, who died three days after his birthday, was a firefighter and police officer in San Jose before he became an official, according to his obituary.
In 2000, Leavy worked Super Bowl XXXIV between the Rams and Titans as a back judge and was promoted to referee the following year.
After retiring in 2015, he took a supervisory position with the league’s officiating department.
In 2019, Leavy won the Art McNally Award, given annually to an official who “exhibits exemplary professionalism, leadership, and commitment to sportsmanship, on and off the field.”
“Bill was an outstanding official and an even better man,” Senior Vice President of Officiating Walt Anderson told Football Zebras. “Always kind and thoughtful, Bill was instrumental in mentoring countless young officials throughout his career. His recognition as an Art McNally Award winner highlights that selfless dedication to officiating. His integrity earned him respect at every step of his football journey and the entire officiating community mourns his loss.”
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