Five NFL officials take leave of absence for 2020 season

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San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, left, talks with official Jeff Bergman during the first half between the 49ers and the Chicago Bears in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018. (Tony Avelar/AP)

NEW YORK — The NFL’s longest-serving on-field official was among five who have opted to take a leave of absence for the 2020 season.

Line judge Jeff Bergman, who was entering his 29th year of service, headlined the list released Friday by the NFL.

Also in the group was back judge Steve Freeman, who was entering his 20th year. He is part of the league’s only father-son duo in the officials ranks. Freeman is a former NFL player who spent 12 of his 13 seasons with the Bills. His son, Brad, is a back judge is entering his seventh season.

Also opting out are field judges Greg Gautreaux and Joe Larrew and back judge Tony Steratore.

The league said additional officials will be hired and announced.

Officials are allowed to opt out under the protocols negotiated by the NFL and NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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