BTFS (1/12/02): Officials around the country know that officials are not born; they are created with experience. This molding could take many years and in the process, only few officials become legendary.
Many legendary officials have retired from the National Football League, including Jerry Markbreit and Red Cashion. Markbreit and Cashion were two of the most respected officials during their careers and are definitely legendary.
Markbreit, retired after the 1998 season after a 23-year career that included a record four Super Bowls and many playoff assignments. Cashion, retired after the 1996 season after a 26-year career that included two Super Bowls, many playoff assignments and a well known “First Dowwwwwnnnnn!” call.
What makes a legendary official? Many things go into making a legend; not just experience, although experience has a bearing. Legendary officials are well respected by players, coaches, other officials and by fans. An official’s personality on the field has a major affect. Both Markbreit and Cashion had personalities that every one could feel while watching their games.
Experience also has an affect; more experienced officials are going to be better trained and better known. The more experienced officials would be more knowledged in the rules, mechanics and would be ready for those crazy game situations that may come up during the most important games.
Other impacts on an official’s status would be their attitude on the field. If an official has an attitude that is over-bearing and un-approachable, then they probably won’t be considered a legendary official. Both Markbreit and Cashion always looked like they were enjoying themselves down on the field. They always were talking with players and coaches and always sparked a smile. This is what led both of them to earning their stripes of an official.
There is only one problem; an official can’t officiate forever. This is something I came to realize. Everybody would like for a well-respected official like Markbreit or Cashion to officiate the game forever, but that just can’t be. There is a time when every great official must bring their officiating career to a close and retire just like these gentlemen did. When they retired, they retired in glory and honor as two of the best officials of all time.
Behind the Football Stripes