Ed Hochuli has seen a lot of football. The former NFL ref started working for the league in 1990, and lasted until the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game last January.
During his time as an NFL ref, Hochuli experienced plenty of changes within the game. Rules were put in place with the intention of making the game safer. Despite being a long-time football guy, Hochuli isn’t pining for the days of the past.
The 67-year-old appeared on the “Always Aggravated” podcast, where he was asked about those changes. Hochuli expressed that he was all for them, adding that there were multiple times per game he thought a player died on the field.
The Big Lead transcribed the relevant portion of Hochuli’s answer.
“The players have gotten bigger — I go back, I started in 1990. They’ve gotten bigger and faster and stronger. I worked over 600 games in the NFL, and there wasn’t a single game right up to the very last one that there weren’t a half a dozen times in that game [where] I said, ‘Oh my god, how’s that guy gonna get up off the ground? He’s gotta be dead.’ And they hop up and they go back to the huddle. It’s a collision sport, and we’ve got to protect them. We’ve got to protect them.”
From 1999-2018, Hochuli worked 306 games, according to Pro-Football Reference. That’s the earliest season the site has records for officials. Considering Hochuli was employed by the league in 1990, his total number of games worked is even higher. It all adds up to a lot of terrifying moments for Hochuli on the field.
While the league has made strides to eliminate dangerous hits, there’s no way to guarantee they won’t happen. As long as football remains a high-speed, contact sport, that possibility exists.
Still, it’s good to know that some of the officials have player safety on their minds when calling games.
(Yahoo Sports NFL H/N: The Big Lead)
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