Lumberton's Brad Allen, according to the website footballzebras.com, will become the first rookie National Football League official in the Super Bowl era to be the lead official of a crew in his first season this fall.
He's the first rookie official hired as a pro football referee since Jack Vest was chosen by the old American Football League directly from college football in 1966. The last time the NFL hired a college official as a referee was Tommy Bell in 1961. Allen became an official with the Southeastern Athletic Officials Association in the mid-1980s and continued to call local games after advancing to becoming an Atlantic Coast Conference official.
He appeared on national television as the referee at the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Army-Navy game and various other bowl games. Two years ago, Allen became the regional supervisor for high school basketball officials, in charge of making game assignments in the Cape Fear region.