By: Barry Barnes, Founder
Who can’t get enough of Father and son stories? ‘When I grow up, I want to be like my dad or I want to be a firefighter, like my dad’ are some of the classic statements boys made about how and what they want to be when they become adults. For the NFL, it’s the same. The league can claim the Mannings (Archie, sons Peyton and Eli), Longs (Howie, sons Jake and Chris), Slaters (Jackie, son Matthew) and Winslows (Kellen, son Kellen, Jr.). The Matthews are a clan, so they are in a category by themselves.
However, many officials are fathers as well, and at some point in their lives, they had a snotty nose, little replica of themselves running around the house. And one day, that little dude said, ‘you get to wear a zebra shirt to work and you get to be on TV, that’s what I want to do when I grow up.’
This season, three more of those snotty nose, little replicas will get the chance to join their fathers and perform the same duties by officiating in the NFL.
Brad Freeman and Shawn Hochuli will accompany their fathers, Steve Freeman and Ed Hochuli, this season on the league’s gridiron. It’s yet to be determined whether Brad and Shawn will work in their fathers’ officiating crew this campaign. Nevertheless, both Brad and Shawn shared the field with their pops last season during the preseason.
Brad officiated in the SEC for nine seasons, Shawn threw yellow flags for years, including the last two seasons for the PAC-10. Both men successfully completed the NFL Officiating Development Program and now they are ready for the big show, while being under the microscope of the media and fans.
Walt Coleman will welcome his son, Walt, to the club next season. Coleman IV is among the advanced participants in the NFL Officiating Development Program and he will be one of the candidates for the Shield’s officiating crew for the 2015 season.
This is an exciting time for the NFL as they welcome father-son duos to the league. The first father and son one-two punch were the Bergmans, Jeff and Jerry. They first took the field in 1991 during the preseason. Jeff is a 23-year veteran and Jerry have been tagging along with his father for 13 years.
Six other current officials also followed their fathers to stand between the lines, such as Keith Ferguson (father, Dick), Tony Veteri Jr., Jeff Rice (father, Bob), Jeff Seeman (father, Jerry), Jim Quirk Jr. and Rusty Baynes (father, Ron).
There is no secret that NFL officials are not apart of the NFL’s full-time staff. Carl Johnson, formerly the league’s Vice President of Officiating, is the only full-time official. According to the current NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino, measures to add more full-time officials are in the works.
“We continue to evaluate the full time official position and will look to add more members in the near future,” said Blandino.
With that being stated, these sons did not have to choose the path of the white and black cap. Hochuli is a trial lawyer and is a partner in the law firm Jones, Skelton and Hochuli, P.L.C. in Arizona. Shawn could have decided to flex his muscles in the courtroom with father, instead he chose to work with his dad on the fields of the NFL – and help him flex his muscles on the gridiron.
Coleman IV is interesting. His father is a sixth-generation family operator of Hilary Diary (formerly Coleman Diary) in Arkansas. Coleman could have easily followed his father's footsteps in the family business, and he probably will. But it was something about that whistle Coleman IV could not get enough of.
Coleman IV's father is not at the top of the media and fans' list of officials as the 26-year veteran has been involved with several controversial games during his career. Most noticeably, "The Tuck Rule" game. In the 2001 AFC Divisional Round playoffs, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was hit from behind by Oakland Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson, causing him to fumble while in the motion of bring the ball back to his person.
The call on the field was a fumble. Walt, boldly, reversed the call correctly and the rest is history.
Walt is noted for making some questionable decisions, but he is not recognized for his boldness and fearlessness during an unpopular time to make the right decision. Walt set an example for Coleman IV from that perspective, and he will proudly follow his father's footsteps in taking the same approach of officiating.
One thing for sure, NFL players cannot say that they've played alongside their fathers on the leagues' field during game day. Besides having a longer career, NFL officials have another leg up on the players - they can work with their dads on Sundays in America's most popular sport.
Happy Father's gentlemen! This is a proud moment for the officials, and the NFL.
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