Contributor

Art McNally

Class of 2022

Seasons

48

Art McNally served as an NFL official for nine years (Field Judge, 1959; Referee 1960-67) before he was hired as the NFL’s Supervisor of Officials in 1968. Upon his appointment, he soon installed the first formal film study program for training and evaluation of football officials in professional sports. 

McNally eventually headed a department of five individuals who coordinated and directed a staff of 112 game officials. He developed standards for the scouting, screening, hiring and grading of the crews that work each NFL game. He is credited with bringing technology to NFL officiating and introduced the highest level of training for the officials by using video and practice techniques that NFL teams used with players. 

The training and officiating mechanics developed by McNally filtered down the entire profession of football officiating and remains the gold standard for how football officials conduct themselves to this day.

Known as the “Father of Instant Replay,” McNally introduced the system to the NFL. Through his leadership, instant replay has become an accepted part of the game and has spread to all major sports in America.

McNally retired as the NFL’s Supervisor of Officials in 1991 but quickly accepted a position as Supervisor of Officials for the World League of American Football in 1992. At the same time, he continued to serve as an NFL League Consultant through 1994.

In 1995, he returned to the NFL office to work as an Assistant Supervisor of Officials during each football season and continued in that capacity until 2007.  He then continued as an NFL Officiating Observer until 2013.

In 2002, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue created the annual Art McNally Award, which honors an NFL game official who exhibits exemplary professionalism, leadership and commitment to sportsmanship on and off the field. 

McNally was a teacher and coach in the Philadelphia School District for 18 years before joining the league office in 1968. At that point, he had officiated more than 3,000 football, baseball and basketball games during a 22-year period. He also officiated one year in the NBA.

Full Name: Arthur I. McNally
Birthdate: July 1, 1925
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
High School: Roman Catholic High School (Philadelphia)