Friday, January 17, 2014

Your Superbowl Referee ... Terry McAulay

So right on the heels of (3) US Referees being names to the 2014 World Cup, we have the announcement of Terry McAulay named to head the refereeing crew for Super Bowl XXXIX. His crew for the upcoming Super Bowl will be Carl Paganelli (umpire), Jim Mello (head linesman), Tom Symonette (line judge), Scott Steenson (field judge), Dave Wyant (side judge) and Steve Freeman (back judge).

In researching Mr. McAulay you get the pretty standard stuff. Was a high school and college official, married, couple of kids, went to LSU, and has a computer science degree.

Where I really got interested is his involvement was the fact that he worked (2) previous Superbowls (LXIII and XLVIII) and in "bottlegate" on December 16th, 2001. A match between Cleveland and Jacksonville. From Wikipedia:

"The Browns were driving toward the east end zone for what would have been the winning score. Browns' wide receiver Quincy Morgan caught a pass for a first down on 4th and 1. After quarterback Tim Couch spiked the ball on the next play to stop the clock, McAulay announced that they were going to review Morgan's catch, saying that the replay official had buzzed him, indicating for a replay review, before Couch spiked the ball.[7] 

In reviewing the play, McAulay determined that Morgan never had control of the ball, thus the pass was incomplete, and the Jaguars were awarded the ball. However, fans in the "Dawg Pound" began throwing plastic beer bottles and other objects directed at and striking players and officials. McAulay then declared the game over and sent the teams to the locker rooms. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue called the game supervisor to override McAulay's decision, sending the players back onto the field after a thirty-minute delay, where the Jaguars ran out the last seconds under a hail of debris.[7]"

If you want to see some crazy behavior, take a looks at the You Tube clip from that incident below:

So honestly I'm not sure what's worse about this whole thing from the following choices:

  1. The fan(atics) pathetic and frankly dangerous behavior.
  2. TV announcers of this clip making asses of themselves by not only thinking, but actually saying that "... the ref should take control ... of the fans ... by explaining his decision." Soon after saying the referee should end the game, then after he does criticize him for it. I don't even know where to start with that one.
  3. A stunningly stupid move by then commish Paul Tagliabue in ordering his refereeing crew back out into the field, in a hail of beer bottles (yeah but there're just plastic says the announcers), and directly into harms way, to play the last seconds.
I was stunned somewhat speechless by this. 

Not the fan(atics) ... I almost expect this type of behavior at times. Certainly not be the announcers as a rule they spot drivel. However in the commish's decision was really poor to put teams and referees in harms way.

Now very interestingly, I actually read the rule on this (here) and was really surprised at what I saw.

From the law:

Under no circumstances is the referee authorized to cancel, postpone, terminate, or declare forfeiture of a game unilaterally.


A referee must contact the comissh office to get direction. A referee can not do it on their own.

I can almost, almost, see the point when it comes to weather, but fan disorder like this, and you have to call a guy x miles away watching on TV and he says "get back out there."

That seems a little crazy, and even worse, distrustful of the assessment of the refereeing team. After all, they trust them with an outcome of the game, but not a decision to continue it or not?

As referees, do we have this authority? If so, where in the LOTG does it lie?

Well for those who did not know, we do, and it can be found in Law 5 which states a referee has the power to:

Stop(s), suspends or abandons the match, at his discretion, for any infringements of the Laws.

This is true for all levels of the match and it happens at nearly all levels of the match. Just take a look.
I would think this one ended well before the military helicopter landed on the field.

How far would you tell the commish to pound sand if they said "get back out there" in this case? 


  1. Funny but it seems that the rule you quoted does not use the word suspend as an option. That said I wonder if it is within the referee's power given by the NFL to suspend the game while section(s) of the stadium be cleared in the same manenr that a game was suspended this year for severe weather (tornado) in Chicago if I recall. This is clearly a major safety issue and unlike the players, the officials do not have helmets, pads, etc. to offer any protection. Plastic or not projectiles can still inflict damage .. a bottle hitting your eye would cause damage glass or plastic.

    I understand that if the rules of the NFL do not allow the officals to stop the match then they can't. However I feel it could have been handled much better by allowing security to have the crowds removed and bring the players back on when the safety of the crew is not a concern. With 40+ seconds left they only play needed is a knell to which you will 99.9% not see anything go wrong. To force officals out for such a trivial play at that exact moment is very careless. Plus the fans should give the crew some credit ... they tried to call it a catch but got overturned by someone sitting in a nice SAFE office many many miles away ;)

    1. LOL ... I think you are right on the money the whole way through your comment.

      Thanks for reading,