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The first Black official in NFL history has died. 81-year old Burl Toler died Sunday at a hospital in California. He was not only the first Black official in NFL history; he was the first Black principal of a middle school in San Francisco and the first Black official to referee a Super Bowl. Before his career as an official he was a star football player for the 1951 University of San Francisco Dons that had the slogan, “Undefeated, Untied, and Undivided.”

The Dons were denied a bid to the championship in 1951 because they refused to leave behind two black players—Burl Toler and Ollie Matson. Toler was forced to stop playing after a knee injury and began officiating for the NFL in 1965. He is survived by his brother, six children and eight grandchildren.

Greg Aiello, spokesperson for the NFL released a statement saying, “Burl Toler was a pioneer as the first African-American game official in pro sports. He was a great athlete who then became a great official. The NFL will always be proud of his contributions to football and his unique place in NFL history.”

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