Former NFL quarterback and current NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms recently shared an eyebrow-raising story about controversial referee Tony Corrente.
Corrente, of course, is fresh from officiating the Week 9 Monday Night Football contest between the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers, with several highly-questionable calls going against the Bears. The most talked-about of those calls was a controversial taunting penalty on linebacker Cassius Marsh, who was just signed by the team last week.
Corrente also appeared to intentionally hip-check Marsh as he ran off the field after sacking QB Ben Roethlisberger, but when the referee was asked about it after the game, he defended the taunting call and denied feeling any contact at all, which seems odd.
Upon hearing what Corrente had to say, Simms responded with a story of his own about a dubious encounter he had with the referee in the past.
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Corrente Made Statement About His Decisions After MNF Game
“I saw the player, after he made a big play, run toward the bench area of the Pittsburgh Steelers and posture in such a way that I felt he was taunting them,” Corrente said about Marsh’s taunting penalty.
“That I’m not aware of at all, no. I didn’t judge that as anything that I dealt with,” he added, in reference to the contact.
The league, unsurprisingly, stood by its official. “He takes several steps toward the Pittsburgh bench, posturing toward their sideline,” NFL senior vice president of officiating administration Perry Fewell said about the taunting call against Marsh, per ESPN. “Taunting is a point of emphasis to promote sportsmanship and respect for opponents. This was recommended by the competition committee and coaches.”
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Simms Calls Corrente ‘A Liar’
Simms played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos from 2003-10, and he says that based on his own experience with Corrente, he’s not buying what the ref is selling.
“I don’t buy any of it. I don’t buy his answer, Simms told co-host Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk on November 9. “I’m calling him a liar, I don’t really care. I don’t buy it. I’ve seen Tony Corrente get personal to people on the field before. I’ve experienced it, I’ve seen it. I don’t know what else to say. I don’t mean to go after the guy, but I’m going after the guy. I’ve seen it, I’ve witnessed it personally.”
Simms then shared a story from his playing days involving Corrente, and it’s a doozy:
I got hit late in a San Francisco game. I threw the ball, I’m taking like four steps and I’m looking up in the stands, then I get cracked in the earhole. And I get up and I’m like, ‘That was a late hit!’ And I might have said the ‘F’ word too. It was third down, so then I run off the field. Usually when you come back from commercial breaks and there’s stoppage time, the referee kind of gives the quarterback a kind of warning, like ‘Hey, call your play, I’m about to blow the whistle.’ He’s not doing anything to me. Now we’ve gone through three commercial breaks, a quarter break and he’s just blowing the whistle while we’re all just like standing around waiting for things to go, and he’s starting the clock. So finally I go, ‘Are you going to warn me before you start the clock again? I mean, usually that’s protocol.’ And he just goes, ‘Are you going to apologize to what you said to me earlier?’ I wanted to lose my crap, and after the game I wanted to call him out. If we won I probably would have.
Simms has a point. Corrente waited an exaggerated amount of time before tossing the flag, and he did it in rather unconventional fashion:
“He just showed me he was going to get personal, he was going to take the game into his own hands there. That, to me — he can say whatever he wants. He should have thrown the flag five seconds before that if he really thought it was taunting,” Simms added.