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Throwback to the 1992 playoffs: Referee Dale Hamer roughed up and gained respect from John Madden

We turn the clock back to 1992 when referee Dale Hamer earned some painful praise from John Madden.



It is always good to get a playoff assignment, and after the 1992 season, referee Dale Hamer was assigned to the Philadelphia Eagles – New Orleans Saints wild card game in New Orleans.

Officials want to get in and get out without any recognition, but when John Madden is giving praise to an official, it can’t be all that bad, can it? Hamer might have wanted to remain anonymous instead of what drew Madden’s attention.

Hamer and his crew of umpire Rex Stuart, head linesman Dale Williams, line judge Jeff Bergman (in his first playoff game), back judge Dick Creed, side judge Don Carlsen and field judge Bob Lewis were having a good game. The Saints scored and kicked off. The Eagles downed the punt in the end zone, and then a scuffle broke out.

Williams and Hamer went into the middle of the pack to settle things down, but Hamer got knocked around. He came out of the pack without his hat and scrapes on his face.

After the crew got both teams away from each other, Bergman came over to check on Hamer. He continued in the game without any attention from trainers. But, in the footage above, you can see he’s testing things out making sure his jaw is aligned, his teeth are intact and there aren’t any cuts to his lips or inside his mouth.

John Madden noticed Hamer and thought he might make a good member of the “All Madden Team.” The veteran referee finished the game, probably applied some topical disinfectant in the locker room and was well enough later in the month to be the alternate referee in Super Bowl XXVII.

Hamer was hired into the NFL in 1978. He worked two Super Bowls (XVII and XXII) as a head linesman and was promoted to referee in 1989. He missed a year (1995) due to heart valve surgery. He returned to head linesman in 1998 and retired 2001 after a 22 season career.

It’s never any fun for an official to get roughed up. But, hopefully Madden’s praise was some pain-relieving balm for the veteran referee after the game.

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?"