NFL mourns death of Pro Football Hall of Fame Referee Art McNally

Art McNally NFL Ref & HOF (courtesy Pro Football Hall of Fame)

Statement from Commissioner Roger Goodell on the Passing of Art McNally

​”Art McNally was an extraordinary man, the epitome of integrity and class. Throughout his distinguished officiating career, he earned the eternal respect of the entire football community. Fittingly, he was the first game official enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. But more importantly, he was a Hall of Fame person in absolutely every way. Our thoughts go out to his wife, Sharon, his children Marybeth, Tom, and Michael, and his grandchildren.”


Arthur Ignatius McNally (July 1, 1925 – January 1, 2023) was an American football executive who was director of officiating for the National Football League (NFL) from 1968 to 1991. Before becoming director of officiating—succeeding Mark Duncan, who had held the position from 1964 to 1968—McNally served as a field judge and referee in the NFL for nine years from 1959 to 1967. During a 22-year span, he officiated over 3,000 footballbaseball, and basketball games, which included one year in the National Basketball Association (NBA). In 2022, McNally became the first NFL game official to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


McNally was a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Roman Catholic High School before graduating from Temple University in Philadelphia. McNally was a teacher and coach in the Philadelphia school district at Central High School until his appointment as the NFL’s supervisor of officials before the 1968 season. He was a veteran of World War II, serving in the Marines.

As NFL director of officiating, McNally headed a department of five men who coordinated and directed a staff of 112 game officials. He was responsible for the scouting, screening, hiring, and grading of the seven-man crews that work each NFL game. McNally was instrumental in using game footage for the evaluation of game officials.

McNally was succeeded by Jerry Seeman after the 1990 season. After retiring as director of officiating, McNally accepted the position as Supervisor of Officials for the World League of American Football in December 1991, a position he held for five years. McNally continued to serve as a league consultant and game observer thereafter.

McNally returned to the NFL front office in 1996 to work as an assistant supervisor of officials, a position he served in until 2008, before transitioning to an observer role for eight seasons. McNally officially retired following the 2015 season.

Art McNally Award Trophy (courtesy NFL)


Awards are formally presented the day of the Pro Bowl game.


Posted in NFL