Burl Toler, Sr.
(born May 9
in Memphis, Tennessee
) is a former American football official
in the National Football League
(NFL) for 24 seasons from 1965 to 1989. He served as a field judge and head linesman throughout his career and is most notable for being the first African-American official in the NFL . Toler officiated in one Super Bowl
, Super Bowl XIV
in 1980 and wore the uniform number 37.
Toler attended the University of San Francisco and played football for the school as a linebacker. He was a member of the 1951 undefeated Dons football team of which three of his teammates would later be enshired into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after successful careers in the NFL;Gino Marchetti, Ollie Matson, and Bob St. Clair .
Toler was the #1 draft pick for the Cleavland Browns, but seriously injured his knee during a college all-star game that ended his football playing career, so he decided to become an official instead. After retiring as an NFL official in 1990, he served as a game observer for the league, which involved grading officials, for eight years.
On April 21, 2008 Toler Sr. was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF).
His grandson, Burl Toler III, is an American football wide receiver. He was signed by the San Jose Sabercats of the Arena Football League on October 17th .
Toler was the head linesman for the 1982 AFC Championship Game
between the San Diego Chargers
and Cincinnati Bengals
at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium
. The game was played under the coldest wind chill temperature in NFL history. Air temperature was -9°F (-23°C), but the wind chill was -59°F (-51°C). The game would later become known in NFL lore
as the "Freezer Bowl
". Toler also was the first black man to be an official in Super Bowl History.
Toler worked for 17 years at Benjamin Franklin Middle School***
in San Francisco as a teacher and as the district's first African American secondary school principal. The former Ben Franklin Middle School campus, now the home of two charter schools, was renamed in his honor on 22 October 2006.
*** (In the earlier years, it was known as Benjamin Franklin "Jr. High" School)
Burl was married in 1952 and had 6 kids with his wife Melvia. He has 8 grandchildren and two brothers and one sister.
Notes and references