By Greg Gulas
For the past 36 years, Struthers’ Dick Creed has been a quiet, unassuming field or replay official in the National Football League.
A back judge, he spent 22 seasons in the trenches, working two Super Bowls, 22 playoff games and a bevy of meaningful regular-season contests.
For the past 14 years, however, his valuable input as a replay official has either confirmed or overturned a call made by one of his pinstriped colleagues.
Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches at their weekly Monday meeting, this year’s Art McNally Award honoree was very candid about his professional officiating career.
“I never considered myself in the class of fellow officials Jerry Markbreit, Red Cashion, Jim Tunney, Dean Look and Jerry Bergman, so it came as a total shock to me when I was named this year’s honoree,” Creed said. “I was really humbled, but it also bothered me so I requested a meeting with Art in order to get some things off my chest in order to set the record straight.”
The opportunity for Creed to meet with McNally occurred early during the 2012 season in Green Bay.
“I called Art at his home and asked for some time with him, if he was available. I knew his habits as he rises early and likes to get a nice start to his day,” Creed said. “You don’t talk when you meet with him, you listen and that is exactly what I did. I’ve been around him 36 years and he has those beaming eyes looking right at you so I just paid attention.”
While Creed felt Jerry Seeman was most deserving of this year’s honor, he also listened to the reasons McNally gave as to why his selection was most deserving.
“Art went on to say that officials are monitored both in and out of season, adding that many of the officials that I had recommended were still in the league. He added that I fought for their nomination and never backed down while also helping other officials on various levels of college as well,” Creed said. “When we were done with our meeting, I felt much better about receiving the award.”
According to Creed, it was McNally who changed the face of officiating in the NFL, adding a seventh field official under his leadership so that when a play unfolded everything would be covered and nothing would be missed.
He also credited his former boss with championing the cause for adding replay as well.
“When I was on the field calls were being missed, like the Ken Stabler, Dave Casper ‘Holy Roller’ fumble. You just didn’t want to be part of a crew that costs a team a game by making the wrong call,” Creed said. “Television was already on top of all of this with their instant replay so Art stated his case at the league meetings and in 1986, the idea was adopted.”
It was McNally who interviewed Creed in 1977 and ultimately gave him his opportunity in the NFL.
Creed’s five-decade association with the NFL has also included duties as an evaluator of college officials with NFL aspirations, as well as serving as mentor to downfield officials in several leagues.
“I will have the opportunity once again this year to evaluate up-and-coming college officials. Having been associated as a coach with several programs on the high school level and also YSU, it has also given me a different perspective of the game,” he added. “The biggest thing I learned came from Jim Tressel and that was not to give up on anyone. He taught me not to quit on someone just because they might be having a bad game.”
Creed credited local peers Bob Walker, Ted Humphrey and Dr. Larry Glass as having a great influence on his career, adding that Bob Mansfield, whom he worked with while a basketball whistle-blower was one of the tops at his craft.