The Best NFL Officials

Thomas ConroyCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2011

The Best NFL Officials

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    The outcry’s of “we wuzz robbed” can heard in every town throughout the NFL, as conversations about officiating can become an emotional topic for all involved. Botched calls cost teams precious wins, and they remain fresh in everyone’s minds for months to come.

    December is an important month in professional football, as the league grades each officiating crew’s performance and selects the top performers for their all-star playoff crews. After wildcard weekend, the top three all-star officiating crews are then selected to work the Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl. No official can work in back-to-back Super Bowls.

    Here are the best NFL officials:

Mike Carey

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    The best compliment of Mike Carey’s officiating skills is that you often don’t notice him on the field. His communication level with coaches is excellent, as Carey will offer a full explanation on all disputed calls.

    He prepares his crew for their upcoming games by providing a full scouting report on each squad. Carey stresses to his crew to be consistent with their calls on every down and never officiate to the outcome on the scoreboard.

    He was the first African-American to ever officiate a Super Bowl. 

Ed Hochuli

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    Ed Hochuli is best known for his muscular physique and long, drawn-out explanations of each penalty called, but he has also worked two Super Bowls in his distinguished career.

    Hochuli has been a lightning rod for several controversial endings to games: The 1993 Leon Lett Thanksgiving Day fumble game and the 2008 San Diego Chargers-Denver Broncos non-call game.

    He credits Jerry Markbreit, a four-time Super Bowl referee, as having the biggest influence on his career. As a union head, Hochuli used bullying tactics to prevent potential replacement officials from working games during the 2001 strike.

Tony Corrente

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    Tony Corrente began his NFL career at the start of the 1998 season. He received 13 postseason assignments, which includes three conference championship games and being named head referee to Super Bowl XLI.

    His crew is all business, with Corrente quickly diffusing all on-field controversies that can get dicey at times. You’ll be surprised to know that he is a big proponent of instant replay and envisions an expansion of its role in the near future.

    Corrente feels the best game is played when no flags are thrown and his role almost becomes transparent on the field. 

Walt Anderson

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    Walt Anderson has been an NFL official since the 1996 season, having officiated in fourteen postseason assignments and two Super Bowls.

    His crew is often ranked near the top when the league is grading their officials for the season.

    His on-field demeanor is very personable; Anderson feels his job is not only to officiate the game but also to serve as a spokesperson for the league. At times, he will put some personality into his calls, but Anderson will never try to be bigger than the game itself. 

Gary Cavaletto

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    Some game officials come off as condescending and dismissive when they’re challenged about their football knowledge, but Gary Cavaletto truly understands the game.

    His game crew will allow physical play to a certain extent, but they have a reputation of calling unnecessary roughness penalties when the play gets chippy on the line of scrimmage. It might not mean much now, but it’s something to keep in mind come playoff time.

    Often, Cavaletto is seen holding a running conversation with players and coaches during the course of a game.