NFL referees should blend into the background, like Homer Simpson fading into the bushes.
Problem is, not all do. One of those pesky zebras, a guy named Tony Corrente, has been assigned to man the crew for Sunday’s Eagles-Cowboys battle for the NFC East. This year, his crews have called the fourth-most amount of penalties. Look for holding calls, lots of them. He has been averaging 15 penalties per game for 123 yards.
Corrente has doled out 191 total penalties for 1,597 yards in 13 games, including 81 on the home team. Not out of the ordinary since home teams usually get more calls. But the frequent flagger has not been kind to Philadelphia throughout his career.
The Eagles are 6-12-1 in games reffed by Corrente while the Cowboys have gone 9-7. Head-to-head? Cowboys are 2-0 versus the Eagles with Corrente at the helm. Obviously, it’s an alarming trend.
Remember, Corrente was also the lead official who missed a dangerously blatant face-mask non-call on Miles Sanders in Week 3. The rookie had his entire head decapitated and turned around without any flag. The league later fined Miles Killebrew $10,527 for unnecessary roughness.
Controversial Non-Fumble Call in Eagles’ Favor
Of course, it hasn’t all been hailstorms and thunder. Tony Corrente was tasked with making a very controversial call in last year’s Bears-Eagles playoff game on the fly. He got it right, by the letter of the law.
Bears receiver Anthony Miller made a catch on a crucial 2nd-and-3 near halftime when the ball popped loose. It had been stripped by Eagles cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc but no one recovered and the refs picked up the ball. Corrente’s crew ruled it incomplete and an official review confirmed the call on the field.
NBC announcers Cris Collinsworth and Al Michael openly lobbied for a reversal. They saw it as a pass completion and a fumble. But Corrente upheld the incomplete call by saying: “There was no clear recovery of the football.” The Bears would have gotten the ball back either way. The difference was they lost yards and eventually settled for a field goal.
Philly Radio Host Hates Tony Corrente
There might be no one in Philadelphia (maybe the world) who dislikes Tony Corrente more than 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi.
He has constantly railed against the referee, both on his popular sports radio show and in his weekly sports columns. In 2017, Cataldi aired out a series of grievances after the Seahawks beat the Eagles 24-10 in a contest filled with questionable calls. Cataldi pointed out a string of “phantom” and “flimsy” penalties in an article for PhillyVoice.
It came as no surprise to me – since I speculated about it on my WIP radio show last Friday – that Corrente’s crew would play an integral part in Seattle’s success. In fact, they made key calls against the Eagles in all three of the Seahawks’ touchdown drives.
They handed Seattle an early lead with a phantom pass-interference call against Ronald Darby, keyed the next TD drive with flimsy defensive-holding calls against Patrick Robinson and Corey Graham, and then missed a forward lateral that led to the clinching score.
The Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl that year despite losing to Seattle. Everyone is willing to forgive Corrente for that game. If he shows any small amount of bias for Dallas on Sunday, then the investigation begins. Buckle up, kids.
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