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Honors, remembrances for former refs



The NFL is honoring two of its former officials today: the late back judge Bob Lawing and retired back judge Bill Schmitz.

Lawing, who passed away in May 2010, was honored this season with a commemorative patch worn on official’s uniforms.

lawing2Lawing was posthumously recognized with the Art McNally award; Schmitz was the 2009 honoree. The formal presentation of the award will be made at the Pro Bowl to Schmitz and to Lawing’s family.

Lawing served as back judge for 12 seasons in the NFL, joining the league in 1997. After a cancer diagnosis, he was sidelined in 2007 and returned to the field in 2008. He was listed on the roster of officials for 2009, but he was too sick to continue. He officiated six playoff games and the Pro Bowl. His last game was a 2008 AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Ravens and the Titans.

Schmitz worked as back judge from 1989 and retired at the conclusion of last season. He officiated in Super Bowl XXXV after the 2000 season, as well as several other postseason

The award is named for long-time referee and supervisor of officiating whose career spanned from 1959 through 1990, although he still works with the league in a reduced capacity today.

The past honorees of the Art McNally award are:

  • 2002    Bob McElwee (referee)
  • 2003    Ben Montgomery (line judge)
  • 2004    Tom Fincken (side judge)
  • 2005    Gerald Austin (referee)
  • 2006    Larry Nemmers (referee)
  • 2007    Bill Lovett (field judge)
  • 2008    Bill Carollo (referee)
  • 2009    Bill Schmitz (back judge)
  • 2010    Bob Lawing (back judge)

Photo credits: T.R. Lawing Realty, Life

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)