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Here’s why loose talk on Corrente’s mic isn’t a problem

It can be fun and games for the officials, too … at the right time

When you officiate, you have to find humor in the game. You have to, or you’d go insane with all of arguing, berating, second-guessing and dangerous situations on the field. Officials can’t (and shouldn’t) find humor in a player’s or coach’s performance. So who can be the target of some good-natured fun?


A perfect example of this occurred during the Week 14 game between the Panthers and Falcons. According to The Charlotte Observer, just before the two-minute warning with the Panthers up big, the Panthers’ backup quarterback tried a sneak on fourth down. The officials called for a measurement and the ball was just short. If the Panthers got a first down, all they would need to do is kneel on the ball three times and the game would be over. Instead the Falcons got the ball back for a desperation drive that was meaningless to the result. At the two-minute warning, referee Tony Corrente’s mic was left on and the mic picked up his crew teasing the head linesman about spotting the ball short a first down, prolonging the game.

This is not the first time Corrente has had a hot mic issue. Thankfully this little moment was not as controversial.

This is common for all officials of all sports at all levels. Officials have light moments like this during many games during the season. It helps keep the mood loose, relieves tension, can relax the officials, and even cause them to ramp up concentration before play resumes.

It is hard to concentrate during blowout or poorly played games and officials have to guard against drifting on the game. They have techniques to prevent that. This joking is different and not a symptom of the officials drifting. It was during a timeout where the officials could briefly come together and relax. Unfortunately for the officials, what was a private moment was heard by the rest of the stadium.

Officials make calls in real-time and in good faith. They don’t make calls to get a game over.

Fans were able, accidentally, to hear how officials keep things loose on the field at times. No harm, no foul.

If people are upset about this little exchange, I’ll let Sargent Hulka from the movie Stripes have the final word.



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Mark Schultz
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?"

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5 thoughts on “Here’s why loose talk on Corrente’s mic isn’t a problem

  1. I’m sure they didn’t mean they wanted to cheat to end a blow out game.

    I’m equally sure that that kind of talk, once heard by the public is very bad thing. Image means a lot. And in a season where the officiating is getting a LOT of attention (and not the good kind) even joking about giving a first down to hurry up the game is bad.

    You can’t joke about bombs at an airport. You can’t joke about helping a team if you are a paid official.

    Again, not saying they did/would do anything illegal. just looking at it from a PR perspective.

  2. If it comes at a moment when they’re standing around idly, I can be chill. I realize that this was the case in the incident in question. If it happens as the chains are being trotted out onto the field, that would feel icky, even knowing that they’re certainly . . . almost certainly . . . kidding around.

    It’s the difference between a restaurant chef joking about hair in the food when he’s relaxing on his break versus when he’s peering intently into the pot of soup. As a customer I don’t want to hear either, but I’m putting my spoon down if I hear the latter.

  3. People who get offended easily (blacks, women, religious people) will cry over anything.

  4. I believe it was the last time Tony had a hot mic (all day), he got fined a whole game’s pay……

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