The Arena Football League has become a launching pad to the NFL for not only some players and coaches, but also for game officials.
Three former AFL officials will take the field when the Giants battle the Patriots in Indianapolis for SuperBowl XLVI this weekend. Scheduled to officiate will be John Parry, Gary Cavaletto and Carl Paganelli, son of Coordinator of Officials, Carl Paganelli Sr. Listed as alternate officials are: Al Riverna, Wayne Mackey and Bill Schuester.
It comes as no surprise to AFL Assistant Coordinator of Officials, Dave Chesney, who described the qualities required to make the cut as an AFL official.
"First and foremost, we look for whether or not they are a team player, whether they can function on a crew with other officials," Chesney said. "We look at their standing in their community, they must have integrity and be respected in their current leagues and must possess athletic ability and openness to learning."
All AFL officials also get plenty of work in the outdoor game, officiating at the collegiate level, from Division I to Division III, during the Arena offseason. However, in order to ensure officials fully comprehend the intricate details of Arena Football and the differences between outdoor college football and the Arena game, new officials are transitioned carefully.
"Our new guys are teamed with some of our veteran officials to get a working understanding of our rules, mechanics and expectations," Chesney said. "We also review all of the rules in detail at our annual rules clinic."
In the offseason, many of these officials have worked college bowl games and conference championships. This past year, 13 current AFL officials were involved in bowl games, two in division championship games and four in FCS playoff games.
"This is the expectation for what our guys do in the off-season and it carries into Arena," Chesney said.
Many AFL officials go on to the NFL following their careers in the AFL. Today, 36 officials in the NFL currently have AFL experience on their resumes.
Parry will be the referee on Sunday; this will be his second Super Bowl. Prior to the NFL, Parry served as an official in the AFL, the Big Ten Conference and Conference USA.
Gary Cavaletto will be making his first Super Bowl appearance, working as the field judge on Sunday. Caveletto spent seven years in the AFL and worked as an official at the ArenaBowl XVI in 2002.
Paganelli spent nine seasons in the AFL and officiated at two ArenaBowl Championships. Now, he's preparing to serve as the umpire at his third Super Bowl, demonstrating that it's not just players and coaches taking their AFL experience to the NFL. Officials, too, are honing their skills in Arena Football - a move that continues to launch them onto the biggest stage of all.