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Pete Morelli to receive Art McNally Award



Referee Pete Morelli will be presented with the annual Art McNally award at this Sunday’s Pro Bowl.  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 and past recipients include Bob McElwee, Larry Nemmers, Gerald Austin, and Ben Montgomery. Last year’s award was given to Al Jury.

The NFL announced the Art McNally Award recipient at the 2014 officiating clinic this past summer.

Morelli began his officiating career in 1971.  He progressed from the high school level to officiating in the Big West and Western Athletic Conferences before joining the NFL in 1997 as a field judge.  Morelli quickly exhibited his excellence and was assigned to Super Bowl XXXVI, where he had the honor of signaling the winning field goal as time expired (video).

Morelli became a referee at the beginning of the 2003 season and has worked several playoff games including the 2009 NFC Conference Championship Game. This season, he officiated the Lions-Cowboys Wild Card Game, which he had to address a controversial pass interference flag pickup by his crew.

Off the field, Morelli is president of St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Calif., a graduate of the school and principal for a quarter century. Morelli was promoted to president last February. This season, Buccaneers running back Doug Martin, one of his former pupils, greeted him on the field during a break in the game.

Congratulations to Pete Morelli for this officiating honor.

Incidentally, McNally still works for the officiating department in a training capacity at the age of 92. Recipients of the McNally Award since its inception in 2002 are:

  • 2002: Bob McElwee, referee
  • 2003: Ben Montgomery, line judge
  • 2004: Tom Fincken, side judge
  • 2005: Gerry Austin, referee
  • 2006: Larry Nemmers, referee and replay
  • 2007: Bill Lovett, field judge
  • 2008: Bill Carollo, referee and replay
  • 2009: Bill Schmitz, back judge
  • 2010: Bob Lawing, back judge (awarded posthumously)
  • 2011: Ron Baynes, line judge
  • 2012: Dick Creed, field judge, side judge, and replay
  • 2013: Al Jury, field judge and replay
  • 2014: Pete Morelli, referee

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"