View Full Version : Townsend eyes second career as referee

08-10-2007, 11:03 PM
Townsend eyes second career as referee
By Scott Brown
Saturday, August 11, 2007

Before embarking on a NFL internship he hopes one day will lead to a second career in football, Deshea Townsend had to ask himself a question.

Would he be able to throw a flag on a defensive back for pass interference?

The Steelers cornerback has gotten the answer over the past two years.

Townsend has spent considerable time seeing the game from a referee's perspective, and it's been a revelation. He even was part of an officiating crew that worked several NFL Europa scrimmages in Florida this past spring.

"They have a tough job," Townsend said. "When I was back there, I said, 'Man, I guess sometimes we are holding' or 'I guess we are using our hands too much.' "

For now, the 10-year veteran is content on focusing on football, hoping to earn the Steelers' starting right cornerback job over Bryant McFadden.

Townsend, who's No. 1 on the depth chart at right corner, started the Steelers' first exhibition game last Sunday. But coach Mike Tomlin hasn't decided whether he or McFadden will start tonight, when the Green Bay Packers visit Heinz Field for a 7:30 p.m. exhibition game.

Most Steelers fans probably figured the 25-year-old McFadden would overtake Townsend last season. He's a little bigger and more physical.

Yet Townsend, who turns 32 in September, started 15 of 16 games in 2006 and won't relinquish his job without a fight, especially after it took him seven seasons to become a full-time NFL starter.

"If it's a draw, the champion retains his belt," defensive backs coach Ray Horton said.

Translation: The 6-foot, 190-pound McFadden has to outplay Townsend to take his starting job.

"Deshea, he doesn't make mistakes, so it's hard for that second guy to say, 'Oh, I'm going to get him here.' " Horton said. "The next guy's gotta keep stepping up, stepping up, stepping up.

"(Townsend) makes plays every day because he's smart."

Horton, who's been in the NFL for almost 25 years as a player and coach, says the 5-10, 190-pound Townsend is one of the smartest players he's ever been around.

Hines Ward so values what Townsend sees on the field, it's not uncommon for the veteran wideout to ask Townsend during a game if he's tipping his pass patterns to the opposing defensive backs. Ward said going to school to be a referee only "enhances" Townsend's already considerable knowledge of the game.

Townsend, for his part, is serious about becoming a referee.

The next step in the process for him is getting certified as a high school referee. From there, Townsend said, he's willing to work his way up to becoming a referee at the game's highest level.

Townsend said his training to become a referee has given him at least one edge when he's wearing black and gold and not black and white.

"I know who to talk to when a call is made because each ref has a certain position on the field and players that they're looking at," he said. "So, I know who to go ask, 'Why'd you call that?' "


08-11-2007, 12:23 AM
nice article...

If he is that smart... What about a career in coaching? how about helping coach Ike??

Galax Steeler
08-11-2007, 06:06 AM
That would be a big change from corner to reffere.

08-11-2007, 06:17 AM
Anything that helpd him understand the game better will make him a better player.

Heaven knows it's hard enough to keep track of all the rules these days.

08-11-2007, 08:15 AM
Well, I hope to not see any interference calls on him this season.

08-11-2007, 08:45 AM
Well, I hope to not see any interference calls on him this season.

Hey, if it helps him understand when it can and can't be detected, based on the ref's positioning.....


08-11-2007, 10:45 AM
Well, I hope to not see any interference calls on him this season.

Good point.

08-11-2007, 10:58 AM
I think that would be cool to see, former player turned ref. I know Matt Millen worked a preseason game a while back but he is the only one I know of that's actually done that. Has antone else went from player to ref?

08-11-2007, 01:16 PM
Didn't Ty Law also get into refing? I thought ESPN had a special about him doing it a couple of years ago.