Class of 2022: Career replay shows Art McNally ‘is what the Hall of Fame is about’

By Brendan Heffernan
Pro Football Hall of Fame

ART McNALLY spent his 57 years working for the NFL doing everything he could to avoid the spotlight. Still, his character, integrity and lifetime spent growing the game made him impossible to overlook for Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. 
McNally and the other seven members of the Hall’s Class of 2022 will be officially enshrined into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 6, inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. McNally is the first on-field official to receive the honor. 
McNally, 97, will record a video speech to be broadcast during Enshrinement rather than speaking from the podium during the ceremony. 
“He is what the Hall of Fame is all about,” said Tom McNally, Art’s son. 
McNally’s contemporaries remember him for the unmatched commitment to honesty and fairness he showed while serving as an on-field official from 1958 to 1968 and as the NFL’s supervisor of officials from 1968 to 1991.  
“He is loved by all those that worked for him,” former NFL referee Jerry Markbreit said. “Working with him was an honor and a privilege. He made everyone feel special. The finest director of officiating by far.”  
McNally was responsible for the league's officiating during a period where rule changes were frequent and on-field officials were subject to unprecedented levels of scrutiny and exposure as result of the NFL’s new broadcast rights sharing agreements. He also oversaw the introduction of instant replay to NFL officiating and is now known as the “father of instant replay.” 
“When Art spoke it was like the Oracle of Delphi speaking,” Hall of Famer and former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE said while delivering McNally’s Hall of Fame “knock.” “He never said anything flip. Everything he said was based on reviewing game film, reviewing the performance of the men on the field and knowing the rulebook.” 
McNally refereed his first football game while serving in the U.S. Marines during World War II. McNally’s fellow enlisted men trusted him to be the neutral party for their intra-platoon game because they knew he’d be fair and honest, Tom McNally said. 
After returning from the war, McNally began teaching at Central High School in Philadelphia. The skills McNally developed as a high school teacher and the honesty he had embodied his whole life served him well while working for the NFL and raising his family, his son said. 
“He was a teacher before any of this started and he was a teacher to his referees,” Tom McNally said. “He taught me the same way. He taught me to be stand-up, honest and hardworking.” 

Brendan Heffernan is a student at Loyola University New Orleans and he is an intern this summer at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.