Art Mcnally Obituary, Death – Art McNally, the first NFL official to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Sunday in Yardley, Pa. 97-year-old Thomas announced his death at a hospice near home. McNally was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Canton, Ohio, along with Tony Boselli and Dick Vermeil. He joined the NFL as a field judge in 1959 when professional football was rising to the top of American sports.
In 1960, Mr. McNally became a referee or crew chief. When the NFL had 13 teams, he served as commissioner until 1967, the first Super Bowl. McNally was an alternate for the Packers-Chiefs game. In 1968, he became the league’s supervisor of officials and quit the field. He designed training films and a four-step league evaluation process in that role.
McNally also changed the illegal-contact rule, which limited defenders’ contact with receivers beyond 5 yards from the line of scrimmage, and allowed offensive linemen to extend their arms and open their hands when pass blocking. He led the league’s officiating through its 1970 merger with the AFL and its growth into a multibillion-dollar behemoth with 28 teams. (Now 32) Mr. McNally championed technology as football became the ultimate TV sport. He pushed for a video review of close calls, earning him the nickname “Father of Instant Replay”
Former colleagues praised his professionalism and quiet authority. Paul Tagliabue, who worked with Art McNally as league commissioner in 1989, stated in a video last year, “When Art talked, it was like the Oracle of Delphi speaking.” Everything he said was based on game tape, player performance, and rules. When discussing Mr. McNally’s achievements, league executives typically used “integrity.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called Art McNally “the embodiment of honesty and class” after his passing. Throughout his officiating tenure, he acquired the football community’s esteem. Mr. McNally, a no-nonsense man, never praised himself. he couldn’t always be correct “I was always honest. I was like that in Philadelphia and in the NFL. I tried hard every time. Arthur Ignatius McNally was born July 1, 1925, in Philadelphia to firefighter James McNally and Madge (Boyle) McNally.
He attended Roman Catholic High School in the city and joined the Marine Corps in 1942. He was stationed in Japan during the American occupation of the Pacific theater. His other Marines chose him to umpire a pickup football game since he was the most qualified. “Let’s get Art, he’s honest,” suggested Thomas McNally. He was honest.
After returning to Philadelphia, Mr. McNally married Rita Krout and entered Temple University to become a physical education instructor. He officiated high school football and basketball games early in his teaching career. Since officiating was seasonal, he taught for decades. His first paid officiating gig was a Catholic Youth Organization football game in October 1946. Thomas McNally: “They didn’t make much money.” “He kept a book of every game he worked and how much he made. Sometimes under $2.”
Soon he was refereeing basketball and baseball. By the late 1950s, he was working college football and NBA games on Saturdays. He planned to become a major-league baseball umpire when the NFL hired him. Mr. McNally is survived by his wife Sharon, whom he married in 1986, two daughters, Marybeth and Michael, and eight grandkids. His first wife died in 1981, daughter died of cancer in 2019.
He spent his career officiating high-stakes games with tens of thousands of people in the stadium and millions watching at home, but he never allowed the pressure get to him, even when players and coaches screamed at him on the field. Thomas McNally: “He never wavered.” “He was a vet. They change little. His father said, “I listened to what they said, then I told them the truth.”