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Former Bills safety Steve Freeman & son among 2017 NFL officials

Former Buffalo Bills safety Steve Freeman is among the 124 game officials the NFL announced Thursday will work the 2017 season.

Freeman is entering his 17th year as a back judge. He will be a part of the crew headed by referee Jeff Triplette.

Freeman's son, Brad, is entering his fourth year as an NFL game official. He will be a side judge on the crew headed by referee Carl Cheffers.

The elder Freeman, 64, played for the Bills from 1975 to 1986. The New England Patriots made him a fifth-round draft pick from Mississippi State in '75, released him before the start of the regular season, and he then joined the Bills.

During 12 seasons with the Bills, Freeman had all of his 23 career interceptions, returning three for touchdowns. His best season came in 1980, when he had seven interceptions for 107 yards and one TD.

The Bills traded him to the Minnesota Vikings in 1987.

Freeman began his officiating career in college football's Southeastern Conference. He then worked games in NFL Europe before becoming a back judge in the NFL in 2001.

Brad was a standout baseball player at Mississippi State, helping the Bulldogs reach the College World Series in 1997 and 1998. He followed his father's officiating footsteps by becoming a field judge in the SEC, and joined the NFL in the same capacity in 2014.

Three other Western New York connections to the 2017 roster of NFL game officials are: Canisius College graduate Rick Martinez (a back judge with referee Terry McAulay), University at Buffalo alum Adrian Hill (a side judge with referee Gene Steratore), and Alfred University grad Bill Schuster (an umpire).

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