Gold Jacket Spotlight: Mailman arrived for Art McNally

When former NFL Commissioner and Hall of Famer PAUL TAGLIABUE visited ART McNALLY to inform him of his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022, Art received the message he believed would be delivered by the post office.

“He was expecting information to come from the mailman. He got into the habit of going to the front door and checking for the mail mid-morning. When I was able to tell him he was in the Hall of Fame, he said something like, ‘The mailman has arrived,’ ” Tagliabue said during a conversation on the “Eye Test for Two” podcast.

Art served as an NFL official for nine years before becoming the NFL’s Supervisor of Officials in 1968. The first field official enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Art this week steps into the Gold Jacket Spotlight.

Among the ideas Art initiated for the NFL were standards for scouting, screening, hiring and grading the NFL officiating crews. Additionally, Art is considered the “Father of Instant Replay,” introducing the initial system used in the NFL.

After retiring from his position as supervisor in 1991, Art became the Supervisor of Officials for the World League of American Football.

Art returned to the NFL office to work as an Assistant Supervisor of Officials until 2007 and continued as an NFL Officiating Observer until 2015.

Tagliabue described Art as “a person that had no ego, was a great leader and a person of integrity. He meant so much to the game, to the League and to the men that worked on the field.”

Echoing an appreciation for the level of Art’s integrity, retired 31-year veteran NFL referee Jim Tunney once declared, “I would play poker over the phone with Art McNally. That’s how much I trust him.”

The impact of Art’s efforts and ideas to improve the game cannot be overstated.

“Art was one of the pre-eminent people who makes the league a success,” Tagliabue said.

Dean Blandino, former NFL VP of Officiating and current rules analyst for FOX Sports, added, “I don’t think anyone, anywhere had a bigger impact on the way the game is played than Art McNally.”

When asked to recall Art’s most noteworthy achievement, Tagliabue cited Art’s work on the NFL Competition Committee.

“This was not a group of shrinking violets in the ’70s and ’80s,” Tagliabue mentioned on the podcast. “It was Tex Schramm. It was Paul Brown. It was Don Shula. Very demanding and very analytical about the game.

“I used to go to those meetings … and was amazed at what they’d go into. They could discuss for three or four hours, or a day, the difference between a 42-second clock and a 45-second clock and how the few seconds would make a big difference. But when they completed their analysis, they had a lot of confidence and convictions.”

During his 2015 Hall of Fame Enshrinement speech, BILL POLIAN noted, “One of the greatest experiences I had was serving for 19 years on the NFL Competition Committee. The committee that first year consisted of Paul Brown, Don Shula, George Young, Marty Schottenheimer, Tom Flores and the iconic Art McNally, and from the league office Don Weiss and Donna Montana. Football heaven.”

Earlier this year, Polian commented that Art’s then-pending enshrinement “is really more about what he has done for the profession of officiating in virtually every sport. He is a monumental figure in officiating.”

When Tagliabue knocked on Art’s door in Bucks County, Pa., to deliver the Hall of Fame selection news, he presented Art a Pro Football Hall of Fame hat.

“I brought that hat with me because I figured at some point an official has got to have a hat,” remarked Tagliabue.

Indeed, the mailman made the delivery that Art awaited.