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Picking up his index card: Referee Gene Steratore retiring

Al Riveron, the NFL’s head of officiating, announced via Twitter on Friday that longtime official Gene Steratore has decided to retire.

Steratore entered the NFL as a field judge in 2003, and was promoted to referee in 2006. He was the crew chief for the most recent Super Bowl, between the Eagles and Patriots.

The Index Card game

Steratore may have ended his officiating career on a high note, with the Super Bowl, but just a couple of months earlier he went viral for using an index card to measure a first down late in a Dallas Cowboys-Oakland Raiders game.

NFL referee Gene Steratore, right, whose use of an index card to help determine a first down in a Raiders-Cowboys game last December drew strong reaction, is retiring. (AP)

The move drew an emotional response, especially after the first down the Cowboys got kept a drive going that ended in a field goal – and Dallas went on to win by three points.

But Steratore insisted that he used the folded card to affirm what his eyes were telling him: that the ball was touching the first-down marker. When he couldn’t slide the card between the ball and the marker, he awarded the first down.

Fourth official to retire

Steratore is the fourth official known to have retired since the 2017 season ended, joining Terry McAulay, Jeff Triplette, and guns-always-out fan-favorite Ed Hochuli.

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He comes from a family of officials: his father, Gene Sr., was a college football and basketball official, and his brother, Tony, is also an NFL referee. Steratore also is an NCAA basketball official.

Steratore, who lives in Washington, Pa., south of Pittsburgh, owns a janitorial supply business with his brother. In 2013, Peter King of The MMQB got unprecedented access to Steratore and his crew before a Ravens-Bears game.

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