Art McNally

Class of 2022



"I couldn't always be right, but I always tried to be honest."

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.

Enshrinement Speech

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.

Career Highlights

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.


Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus passed away early Thursday at his home in California at the age of 80.Man of impeccable integrity, Art McNally: 1925-2023


Pro Football Hall of Famer Art McNally passed away Jan. 1, 2023, of natural causes at a hospital in Newtown, Pa., near his longtime home. He was 97. 

“Art McNally was a quiet, honest man of integrity,” said Jim Porter, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “To see Art’s decades of service recognized with his enshrinement as part of the Class of 2022 was a special moment for the Hall. His legacy as a strong leader who helped usher in the advanced training of officials and the technology necessary to keep up with a faster and more complicated game will be preserved forever in Canton.”

Read the full tribute article and watch a video honoring McNally here.

Full Name: Arthur I. McNally

Birthdate: July 1, 1925

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

High School: Roman Catholic High School (Philadelphia)

Died: Jan. 1, 2023

Announcer: Presenting Art McNally for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Art's grandchildren, Shannon and Connor O'Hara. 

(Cheers and applause.) 

SHANNON O'HARA: On behalf of the McNally family, we are proud to be in Canton representing Art. He is watching back at home with the great anticipation of his enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He wanted to share this: He loved officiating, what it meant to football and to his life.

ART McNALLY (via video): I've been very fortunate having a career of many years in football, consistently, with the finest staff of officials throughout the country.

I know from the dedication, the love of the game, the desire to go out on the field every weekend, to see to it that the game is played according to the rules of the National Football League. 

I'd also like to say that when they officiate, they officiate for those players on the field and for those respective coaches on the sidelines who have tremendous pressure on them.

And finally, for the number of people throughout the country, the millions of our fans whose passion and love of the game has made it so great. 

I'm extremely fortunate to have been in this position, and once again I'd like to thank the Hall of Fame.

This is the biggest thing, I think, for an official: Do the job. Hopefully nobody is even going to know you're around. Make the calls the proper way, the way they should be, with a heavy dose of common sense.

(Cheers and applause.)