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Umpire Butch Hannah retires after 18 seasons

In a late offseason move, umpire Butch Hannah retired from the NFL according to multiple sources.  Football Zebras  does not know the reason Hannah left the league, but it has been indicated he initiated the move. His last game was the Raiders-Texans Wild Card Playoff game in January.

Much like the abrupt departure of Dean Blandino as head of officials, Hannah’s retirement has apparently taken a few officials aback. Hannah indicated his desire to leave to Blandino before it was known that Blandino was also leaving.

Hannah joined the league in 1999 and spent time umpiring on crews lead by referees Bill Carollo, Walt Coleman, Walt Anderson, Scott Green, Gene Steratore and Jeff Triplette. Over his 18-year career, Hannah worked nine of them with Anderson.

A postseason veteran

While Hannah never got on the field for a Super Bowl, he was a playoff mainstay. The NFL assigned Hannah to a post-season contest in 13 seasons including 9 wild card playoff games, a divisional playoff, and 3 conference championships.

Hannah’s first playoff game was a memorable one. It was the 2002 Wild Card Playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants. While Hannah wasn’t the calling official for the last-play controversy, he was very busy in that game. Terrell Owens of the 49ers participated in a war of words with the Giants that degenerated into fisticuffs. Hannah was in the middle of the melee, trying to restore order (video).

After that game, the NFL assigned playoff games by crew in the early rounds and by top-three-at-their-position for the championship games and the Super Bowl, rather than using mixed crews. (The league returned to mixed crews in 2012.) Because of this, Hannah worked  two playoff games during  the early part of his NFL career.

Most of Hannah’s service  at umpire was in the traditional position, forcing him to dart and dodge. Unfortunately he missed some time during parts of two seasons because of injuries on the field; however he always was able to return to action. In 2005, Hannah was accidentally hit in the face by Ronde Barber while trying to break up a fight. The NFL fined Barber  $30,000 for that wayward swing.

We congratulate Hannah on his fine NFL career and wish him the best in retirement.

(Click the arrows to navigate through the photos in the gallery.)

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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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