Why the NFL Needs Mike Pereira

Yes, he’s a Santa Clara alum and yes, he gave a speech at the school, but there’s more to it than that writes Tom Schreier.

My cousin Andrew plays football. He’s an adolescent. Like any concerned family member, I want to ensure that the rules of the game are enforced in order to keep players safe, not just to strike competitive balance or close loopholes.

Sports are dangerous by nature, but I want to ensure that a game that I love and my cousin plays has rules designed to keep players safe and abides by an ethical code.


Pereira began his officiating career in Ravenswood, Calif. where he governed an adolescent game for additional money. He described it as a shot in the arm*, an event that bestirred a lifelong passion.

*An interesting expression, considering the concern of PED use not only in football, but also across all sports. Then again, he gave the impression that he was speaking from the heart about his passion and not calculating his words—which is of course much appreciated.

Google Pereira and at first glance it appears that his life has this giant blank space between 1972 when he graduated with a degree in finance and 1996 when he became an on-field official.

It is as though his years spent officiating high school and Division I college football were irrelevant to his current position.

It is as though his experience as a league official and then later in the league office as the Director of Officiating and VP of Officiating in the league office following his tenure as an official were the only foundation for his current position as Fox’s rules analyst for college and professional football.

Sure it is his tenure in the league office that put him on Santa Clara’s notable alumni page, but it is his Fox contract that allows him to voice his opinion on pertinent officiating matters and got him a commercial with JB Smoove*.

Not Mike Pereira

*Although, he admits he’s often confused with Berry Weiss on Storage Wars. Oh yeah, and his comments about Jon Gruden got him some attention.

Certainly, there will be people that question why there’s a rules expert on TV, but I would sure as hell like to know why Ryane Clowe got away with playing a puck from his own bench*. For football specifically, with increased concern over concussions (SI, Nov. 1, 2010) and player safety, it’s never a bad idea to have someone explaining the rules to concerned fans.

*Dan O’Halloran here’s a job for you once your done.

There is apathy toward injury in the NFL, but as Pereira said in his speech if concerned parents or guardians have qualms about letting their kids play on Friday, there will be less talented athletes under the bright lights on Sunday.


In the most telling part of Pereira’s speech, he lifted up a high school rulebook that looked something like a pocketbook dictionary. Then he lifted up a college rulebook that looked like a paperback novel. Finally, he lifted up the NFL rulebook—a tome held together with a spiral and divided into subsections.

None of those subsections was listed as ‘Ethics.’

That rulebook may be larger and more detailed, but I would never, ever, want to see Andrew governed by that book.

Tom Schreier writes for TheFanManifesto. He can followed on Twitter at @tschreier3. Email him at tschreier3@aol.com.

The entire FanMan team can be followed on Twitter at @TheFanManifesto, or liked on Facebook by clicking here.

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