Meet three of the greatest ever NFL referees

NFL referees

This article was last updated on August 29, 2022

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A great NFL game means having 22 players at the pinnacle of their ability out on the field showcasing their talent. But of course, they are not alone out there. Without the officials there would be no game, and it’s just as important to have a world class referee as it is to have a great quarterback or wide receiver. In the heat of the action, one bad call can ruin an entire game. 

It can sometimes look like a thankless task being a referee. After all, they only seem to get singled out when they make a mistake. When they do a great job, you’re barely aware they are even there. Before we start feeling too sorry for them we might want to ask ourselves how much do NFL refs make? The answer is often well into six figures, amounting to more than $10,00 per game. Still, money is not everything. Let’s pay tribute to three of the truly great referees of recent years.  

Tony Corrente 

One of the most recognizable faces in the NFL for more than two decades, former teacher Tony Corrente worked as an NFL referee from 1995 till his retirement in 2021 on the eve of his 70th birthday. A cancer diagnosis in 2011 only kept him out of action for three regular season games while he underwent chemotherapy and when, the following year, a few mid-game expletives made it out of his lips and past the CBS censors, it endeared him all the more to the football-loving public.  

The pinnacle of Corrente’s career was when he stood as head referee for Super Bowl XLI in 2007 at Dolphin Stadium. Corrente is still very much in action, and officiated at this year’s Pro Bowl. 

Ed Hochuli 

It’s interesting to see the diverse backgrounds of football officials. As well as serving as an NFL referee for 27 years, Ed Hochuli has maintained a “day job” as trial lawyer and partner at Phoenix law firm Jones, Skelton and Hochuli since 1983.  

Hochuli has brought that sense of justice and fair play to his officiating and was never afraid to take time to explain what was happening when things got complicated out in the middle. A trusted pair of hands, he watched over two Super Bowls, XXXII and XXXVIII in 1998 and 2004, plus numerous conference games. Now 71, he continues to practice law. 

Mike Carey 

In a sport that has had its low moments when it comes to matters of diversity, Mike Carey became one of the most respected referees in the league during the 00s. He also became the first referee of African American descent to take charge of a Super Bowl when he was named referee for Super Bowl XLII in 2008.  

As a former player himself at college level, Carey understood footballers better than most and did not suffer fools gladly. His willingness to eject players who crossed the line led to some controversial moments but also earned him the respect of both players and fans during his 23 year career.  

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