The NFL Referees Association, the union for the NFL’s officials, has recognized former side judge Dean Look as its 2018 Honoree.
The Honoree Award recognizes an official for an outstanding career and service to the union.
The NFLRA is honoring Look this weekend at its annual meeting and banquet.
Before officiating, Look played football and baseball at Michigan State University earning All-American honors in football and All Big Ten honors in baseball. Look was drafted by the Denver Broncos, but opted to play pro baseball, and made it to the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox. After his baseball career, he played tailback and quarterback in the American Football League with the Buffalo Bills and New York Titans (currently, the Jets).
Look worked in the NFL from 1972 to 2000. He wore number 49 for most of his career. He began as a line judge, and when the NFL expanded to seven-man crews in 1978, Look became a side judge. The Michigan native was the first to work the title game as a side judge in Super Bowl XIII; he also was assigned to Super Bowl XV, and XXVII.
Great plays make for great calls, and Look made one of the most dramatic touchdown calls in the modern NFL era. Look called “The Catch,” the famous Dwight Clark touchdown that beat the Cowboys in the 1981 NFC Championship Game (video).
According to the book The Third Team, Look’s career almost ended before it began. In his first exhibition game, Look applied the college rule and blew his whistle to rule a New England Patriot ball carrier down when the runner slipped. As the runner got up, Dick Butkus of the Chicago Bears hit the ball carrier. Look then threw an unnecessary roughness flag on Butkus enraging the veteran linebacker. According to Look, things went downhill from there. Look told author Richard Lister that he failed to stop the clock for the two-minute warning and shot the gun signalling the end of the half once time expired. But the Patriots signalled for a fair catch on the half-ending punt. The Patriots opted for an untimed fair-catch kick. Referee Fred Wyant and umpire Joe Connell had to work hard to keep both teams from running off the field after Look shot the gun ending the half.
Look said he went back into the locker room and started to undress. He was ready to quit. But, Connell and Wyant told Look stories about their first game disasters and got Look in the right frame of mind to continue the second half — and continue with his career.
That mentoring by Connell and Wyant stuck with Look, and he passed along that mentoring to new officials after he was an established veteran.
“I was fortunate to work with Dean when starting my NFL officiating career,” said NFLRA Executive Director Scott Green in a news release. “Dean was always generous with his time, spending countless hours working with younger officials on the nuances of the game. He loved officiating and wanted to share the knowledge he’d gained so that we could all benefit from his experience.”
Look was ready to begin his 30th NFL season in 2001, but an annual league physical revealed a heart problem that required triple bypass surgery. After a successful surgery, Look chose to retire from the NFL.
In addition to 3 Super Bowls, Look worked 6 wild card playoffs, 11 divisional playoffs, 6 conference championships. He was just surpassed this season by Ed Hochuli for second place all time with 26 postseason games. His final game was the Raiders-Patriots divisional playoff game that extended into overtime as a result of the Tuck Rule.
Congratulations to Look for being recognized by his officiating peers!