(Mike Pereira photo courtesy of Fox Sports)
(Art McNally cover photo courtesy of NFL)
By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has over 300 members, including players, coaches and contributors. What it doesn’t have, however, is one modern-era official.
You heard me. Zilch.
Cooperstown has major-league baseball umpires. The Basketball Hall of Fame has referees. And the Hockey Hall of Fame has officials. But Canton? Nope, the only rep from that department is Hugh (Shorty) Ray, a former supervisor of officials who left the league office in 1952.
And since then? Nothing, and the league’s former head of officiating, Mike Pereira, now an analyst with Fox and author of the book, After Further Review: The Infamous, Controversial and Unforgettable Calls that Changed the NFL, thinks it’s time that changes.
Moreover, Pereira has the perfect candidate – former referee and league officiating boss, Art McNally – saying it would “be criminal” if he weren’t inducted.
“I think Art McNally deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,” Pereira said on a recent Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “First of all, he did the on-field stuff. And he had the job I had … and Jerry Seeman had for 10 and I had for 12 (years) … but he had it for 27 or some unbelievable amount of time (he had it for 23 years).
“He was really close to (former Dallas GM) Tex Schramm . Really, he started instant replay. I mean, he experimented with instant replay back in … I forget … 1982 or something like that when he and Tex started experimenting with games, not using it, but seeing what kind of impact it might have. And then there’s not a classier man in the world. There really isn’t.”
McNally, 91, has been a Hall-of-Fame finalist for the contributor category that was created in 2014 and is enshrined in the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He devoted his entire professional career to officiating, serving on the field for nine years before he was hired as the NFL’s Supervisor of Officials in 1968.
Shortly after his appointment, he installed the first formal film study in the sports industry for the training and evaluation of officials. As Pereira mentioned, McNally later went on to introduce instant replay to the NFL before stepping down from his league position in 1991.
He is the first recipient of the Golden Whistle Award, given by the National Association of Sports Officials, and in 2012 was awarded the Hall of Fame’s Pioneer Award, given to individuals who made significant contributions to pro football. What’s more, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue created an award in his name — the Art McNally Award — given annually to the official who exemplifies professionalism, leadership and sportsmanship on and off the field.
“If there’s ever an official that belongs in the Hall of Fame, it’s not Jim Tunney, it’s not Ben Dreith, it’s not Jerry Markbreit or Red Cashion,” said Pereira. “To me, it would be criminal if it was anybody but Art.”