Carl Cheffers is married and has two children. Cheffers' father also was a football official and worked in the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10).
As a college student, Cheffers became interested in officiating through his father, and decided to work intramural sports to make additional income. Enjoying the experience of student sports, he sought assistance from his father to officiate high school football games to begin a career. Starting in 1980, he worked several high school playoff games, and two high school championship games. By 1995, Cheffers began officiating in the Pac-10 where he worked for five seasons before being hired by the NFL. During this time, he also worked in the Western Athletic Conference.
Since entering the NFL, Cheffers has worked as a side judge, most recently on the crew headed by referee Larry Nemmers. Cheffers was promoted to referee (crew chief) beginning with the 2008 NFL season following the retirement of Nemmers and referee Gerald Austin.
In his promotion to referee, NFL officiating director Mike Pereira said of Cheffers, "Carl has been extremely successful on the field as a side judge. He is very knowledgeable of the rules, a good rules guy. Strong presence. He was part of Larry Nemmers' crew and he was clearly a crew leader. When we first saw Carl, we saw referee experience from him even though he had refereed basically at the small-college level."
Cheffers was selected to be the alternate referee of Super Bowl XLIX, which was played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on February 1, 2015.
In December 2015, Cheffers refereed the match between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, which resulted in the "Miracle in Motown" play.
Cheffers' 2017 NFL officiating crew consists of umpire Clay Martin, down judge Tom Symonette, line judge Kent Payne, field judge Mearl Robinson, side judge Brad Freeman, and back judge Jim Quirk. On February 5, 2017, Cheffers was the referee for Super Bowl LI in Houston, between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, which was the first (and remains the only) Super Bowl to be decided in an overtime period. New England won the game 34-28.