Nfl Referee No Stranger To Rim Country

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When Ron Corrente's phone rings during an NFL football game, he usually knows who is on the other line.

It's most often one of his Rim Country friends primed and ready to tease him about a perceived missed call his brother, Tony Corrente, made while officiating a National Football League game.

"I get those (phone calls) all the time," Ron said.

Tony Corrente is a professional football official, who, on many Sundays and some weekdays, can be seen on TV refereeing games.

Only two weeks ago, he and his crew officiated the San Diego vs. New England playoff game, viewed by millions of sports fans from around the country.

"That was a thrill watching that game," Ron said.

In addition to watching his brother at work on national television, Ron has attended a few of the football games Tony has called.

"When he comes to Arizona, he usually has two or more tickets for us," Ron said. "He could get us tickets on the road, but we'd have to travel."

In the offseason, Tony is no stranger to the Rim Country. He often finds his way to Payson each spring just in time for the annual Beeline Cruise-in and Charity Auction Show.

Ron, the proud owner of a 1957 Pontiac Star Chief Classic, is among the local car club members who host the local cruise-in.

During Tony's last visit to Payson, he set aside his interest in officiating long enough to explore the world of classic cars.

"He saw a '56 Chevy he fell in love with and ended up buying it for $30,000," Ron said. "He drives a Porsche and normally doesn't go for (classics), but this time he did."

People who know both Ron and Tony, say their personalities are almost opposite.

"I am loud and excitable and he is reserved and quiet," Ron said. "Because of the way he is, he's a good official."

When not officiating pro football games, Tony is a high school social studies teacher in La Mirada, Calif.

"He gets a lot of teasing if someone thinks he missed a call, but it's worse for him when he goes back to school on Mondays," Ron said. "His students are ready for him."

Ron remembers his brother first having an interest in sports while the two were growing up in Southern California.

"As a 19-year-old, he tried out for the Angels," Ron said.

Tony's foray into officiating began in 1971 when he became a member of both a high school and junior college crew.

Ten years later, he hooked up with the Pacific Coast Athletic Association and officiated the Freedom and California Bowls.

He later joined the staff of the Western Athletic Conference and called games in the Alamo, Aloha and Rose bowls.

In 1995, his expertise on the collegiate level earned him a spot in the NFL as a back judge. At the beginning of the 1998 season, he was promoted to referee.

As a referee, he called the 2002 NFC championship game that pitted the Minnesota Vikings against the New York Giants. Last year, he was an alternate referee for Super Bowl XL in Detroit, Mich.

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