Super Bowl

Former NFL player Terry Killens to make history as Super Bowl LVIII official

Killens is set to become the first person in NFL history to both play in and officiate a Super Bowl

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Twenty-four years ago, Terry Killens and his Tennessee Titans were 1-yard short of potentially sending the Super Bowl to overtime. On Sunday, Killens will return to the Super Bowl stage – this time wearing black and white.

Killens, 49, will become the first person in NFL history to both play in and officiate a Super Bowl when the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers face off in Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII

The Houston Oilers selected Killens in the third round of the NFL draft in 1996, which was the last year before the Oilers became the Titans. The linebacker went on to play five seasons with the franchise, including a 1999 campaign that ended in a Super Bowl defeat. 

Led by Steve McNair and Eddie George, the Titans reached Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta with a chance to win the franchise’s first championship. Standing in their way were the “Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams.

St. Louis jumped out to a 16-0 lead midway through the third quarter. George scored back-to-back touchdowns and a Titans field goal knotted the game at 16 with 2:12 to go. Isaac Bruce got loose on the ensuing possession, scoring a 73-yard touchdown to give the Rams a 23-16 lead with 1:54 left in regulation. McNair and Co. marched down the field with a chance to tie the game, but Rams linebacker Mike Jones stopped Titans wideout Kevin Dyson 1 yard shy of the goal line on the final play of the game to seal a St. Louis victory.

Killens finished that Super Bowl with a tackle. The ensuing 2000 season was his last in Tennessee before he finished out his NFL playing career with the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. Still, the heartbreaking Super Bowl defeat was an indelible moment for him.

“That experience was great for me,” Killens said, via the Titans’ website. “I got to enjoy it with my family. Many people came down to Atlanta, and just all the sounds and parties and celebrities that were in Atlanta for Super Bowl Sunday was tremendous."

He continued, “Steve McNair and Eddie George showed why they were All-Pros, the defense came out, was outstanding. It just so happened we ran out of time, and we came up a yard short.”

Killens officiated high school, Division III, Division I, Southwestern Athletic Conference and Alliance of American Football games before returning to an NFL field in 2019. He has been an umpire for 81 regular season contests over the last five years and at four playoff games, including the Chiefs’ divisional round win over the Buffalo Bills in January.

On Sunday, Killens will be one of four first-time Super Bowl officials on a crew led by Bill Vinovich, who was also the head official for the last Super Bowl matchup between the Chiefs and 49ers four years ago. Once again, Killens plans to soak in his Super Bowl experience.

“It's a huge accomplishment,” Killens said. “It's basically a culmination of all the hard work and dedication I have put in. … It is a reward, not only to me, but to my crew. And a big thank you to all the people who have helped me along the way, and given me opportunities.

“I am going to enjoy every little bit of it.”

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