How did NFL referee Bill Leavy die? Cause of death explained

How did NFL referee Bill Leavy die? Cause of death explained

Former NFL referee Bill Leavy, who led the Super Bowl XL crew, passed away on March 28th, 2023 at age 76. Let’s see more details about Bill Leavy and his life journey in the following.

What happened to Bill Leavy?

Bill Leavy, who spent 20 years in the league as a back judge and referee, died on Tuesday, according to MLFootball. He was 76. It says,

Former #NFL referee Bill Leavy died last night at the age of 76, per @footballzebras.
Leavy reffed in two Super Bowls and served as an #NFL officiating supervisor for the last 8 years. He was also a retired San Jose, California police officer, and firefighter, serving for 27 years.

Former NFL umpire Steve Wilson said, “Bill was one of the great men in our profession and was liked by everyone and respected by every coach. He will be sorely missed.”

Leavy retired following the 2014 season, taking a supervisory position with the NFL’s officiating department. He remained in that role until his death.

Cause of death

Bill Leavy passed away at the age of 76. No details have been mentioned as of yet regarding Leavy’s death. We will provide further updates regarding his death once details are released.

Leavy’s passing has been met with sadness and condolences from the NFL community. Former official and CBS analyst Gene Steratore tweeted, “Saddened to hear of the loss of Bill Leavy. 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.”

Who was Bill Leavy?

William Lee Leavy was born March 25, 1947, and raised in Santa Barbara, Calif. As a child, Leavy had to overcome a physical disability in order to lead a normal life. He revealed in a Referee magazine profile that he was born severely pigeon-toed, requiring his legs to be surgically broken and reset so he could walk normally.

Leavy played intramural football at San José State University and received a degree in law enforcement in 1970. He joined the San Jose Police Department before graduation, and a few years later he joined their Police Athletic League, where his officiating career started. Within four years, he was calling high school varsity games.

Leavy officiated in the Big West Conference for 11 seasons. Retired NFL referee Pete Morelli told Football Zebras, “He was a great friend and mentor for me. I was on a Big West crew with Bill, and he was the referee. We officiated many games in college together. When he left for the NFL, he was instrumental in me becoming a referee in the Big West to replace him.”

How did NFL referee Bill Leavy die? Cause of death explained
Bill Leavy during Super Bowl XL

Leavy wishes he had called Super Bowl XL better

Leavy is infamously known for his controversial officiating in Super Bowl XL. Upon visiting the Seattle Seahawks in 2010 during one of their preseason training camp sessions, he opened up about his poor officiating in the big game.

Leavy said:

“It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter and I impacted the game, and 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.”

He added:

“I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn’t good enough. When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It’s something that all officials have to deal with. Unfortunately, when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it’s difficult.”

Before officiating in the NFL, Leavy was a referee in the Big West Conference in college for 11 seasons. He officiated four college Bowl games throughout his college career. He was born on February 13th, 1947, in Santa Barbara, California.


How did NFL referee Bill Leavy die? Cause of death explained
Calculated Super Bowl

Honors and Awards

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.” Senior Vice President of Officiating Walt Anderson praised Leavy’s character, saying, “Bill was an outstanding official and an even better man. 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.”

social Media Tributes

Football Zebras Posted

Sad news in the officiating world. Football Zebras has confirmed that former NFL referee Bill Leavy died last night at the age of 76. He served as an NFL officiating supervisor for the last 8 years

Vern Losh Posted

What a great guy! I first met him a couple of times at some camps in Reno. We had a connection as we were both firefighters. I still have his email and cell number on my phone. Only used it a couple of times but he was always available to talk. RIP

Willow Glen Neighbours Posted

We lost a very special WG neighbor yesterday. Bill Leavy was an NFL official but also was a San Jose State Alumni, San Jose Police Officer, and Firefighter. He was a great person and family friend.

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