Art McNally got to experience his historic moment last year.
McNally became the first on-field official inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was a well-deserved honor. McNally helped shape the way the NFL is officiated.
McNally died at age 97, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall said that according to one of McNally’s four children, Tom McNally, Art McNally died of natural causes on Sunday at a hospital in Newtown, Pa., near his longtime home.
“Art McNally was a quiet, honest man of integrity," Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement. "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.”
McNally, who served with the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II, had a huge influence in the NFL and how we watch it today. McNally was an on-field official for nine seasons, including 1960-67 as a referee, before he was hired as the league’s supervisor of officials. That’s when he started to change the game.
McNally started the first formal training and evaluation program for officials in all of sports. His biggest contribution could be that he oversaw the introduction of instant replay to the NFL for reviewing controversial calls.
McNally is often called "The Father of Modern Officiating." The command center for officials at NFL headquarters in New York City is named Art McNally GameDay Central. There’s an Art McNally Award, started in 2002, that is given to a game official who exhibits "exemplary professionalism, leadership and commitment to sportsmanship on and off the field."
McNally got the ultimate recognition for his contributions to the game last year when Canton called.