Bill Leavy is the recipient of the 2019 Art McNally Award Bill Leavy, former NFL referee and current referee supervisor for the Officiating Department, has been awarded the 2019 Art McNally award, according to senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron via Twitter. The Art McNally Award is named after the former head of officiating from 1968 to 1990, and recognizes an official for “exemplary professionalism, leadership and commitment to sportsmanship on and off the field.”  The NFL began this award in 2002. The award was presented at the annual clinic with past winners present on stage; in previous seasons the award was handed out at the Pro Bowl. Bill Leavy, an

Riveron affirms “clear and obvious” as guiding principle of pass interference in replay

Embed from Getty Images At this past weekend's annual clinic in Plano, Texas, just outside of Dallas, all 122 NFL officials gathered to discuss new rules, mechanics, and points of emphasis for the upcoming NFL season. Perhaps the most talked about rules change during the offseason was the ability to review pass interference through the instant replay system. Since instant replay was brought back in 1999 after a 7-year hiatus, this is only the second foul that is eligible for review. One of the basic tenets of instant replay is to only allow a reversal of an on-field ruling when there


NFL100: In 1979, the NFL renumbered its officials. After 3 years, they scrapped the failed plan

Forty years ago this fall, NFL officials had a radical new appearance. In 1979 the NFL put the referee in a different color cap, a new uniform design, and changed the way it issued officials' shirt numbers. But, by the end of the 1981 season, that numbering system was gone. What happened, why did it happen, and why didn't it stick? Call it a good idea that had too many unintended consequences. The NFL has issued numbers to its officiating staff since 1941. Under those early numbering systems, officials were grouped by position: referees received single-digit numbers, umpires were in the teens,


Keeping up with the downs: Referee John Parry uses an old-school method for game administration Officials from pee-wee games to the Super Bowl all use a very simple piece of equipment to keep track of the downs. All officials wear an elastic band around their wrist and a loop attached to the band. The officials move the loop over their finger or fingers to show the down (for instance, according to the photo above, it is second down). Before the elastic band, officials tied two rubber bands together and that acted as a down indicator. Officials had to carry a few spares on the field, because the rubber bands would eventually break due to wear and exposure

Officials used to use a gunshot to signal the end to a quarter or half

It seems strange today, but NFL officials used to fire a starter's pistol to end each quarter. It's a mechanic that dated back to the start of pro football up until the NFL discontinued the practice starting in 1994. When the NFL was in its infancy and up through the 1960s, stadium clocks were not the official time and officials kept time on the field. It used to fall to the back judge to keep time. When the NFL expanded to six-man crews in 1965, the line judge took over timing duties. A member of the chain crew would normally carry