By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It is the end of an era in NFL officiating. Ed Hochuli is retiring.
The man known as much for his bulging biceps as he is for his long-winded explanations of the simplest on-field matters will be hanging up his schmedium-sized striped shirt, ending a 26-year run as an NFL referee.
Hochuli and Jeff Triplette are on their way out, while Hochuli’s son will be one of the two new referees to be added to the NFL’s roster.
Hochuli, 67, has arguably been the most well-known, recognizable referee in the NFL over the past 15 years — for better and for worse. A lawyer by day, Hochuli became known for saying 10 words when only one was required. He’s also given interviews about his workout regimen, something that drew national interest when he began bursting out of his referee jersey in the early 2000s.
He’s had his miscues — like his admitted blown call that helped Denver beat San Diego in 2008, or his bizarre forward progress ruling on a strip sack in New England in 2016, or the time he told Cam Newton that he wasn’t old enough to get a call — but he’s been a generally reliable referee during his career. He refereed Super Bowl XXXII between the Broncos and Packers, as well as Super Bowl XXXVIII between the Patriots and Panthers. His final game came this year in the NFC Championship Game, when the Eagles beat the Vikings. He had refereed the playoff game between the Falcons and Rams two weeks prior.
Triplette’s retirement was previously known, as the NFL seemed to have given him a playoff game in Kansas City in January that he maybe should not have been given. But Hochuli’s departure comes as a bit of a surprise. It would have been nice to have known on Dec. 17 that when Hochuli drew his hands to the top of his shoulders to signal an illegal touching penalty, it was the last time we’d ever see Hochuli flexing on an NFL field. Though, come to think of it, given the NFL’s ban on celebrations that mimic the use of weapons, it makes sense that the league would want to remove those guns from the field.