When NFL experts are asked about some of the top officials the game has ever seen, the name of James Tunney is almost always one of the first to be recalled. Mr. Tunney has been fondly dubbed "the Dean of NFL Referees."
Tunney officiated for 31 years during one of the most revolutionary spans in NFL history. He started in a era that had been before any AFL/NFL merger was thought of, before any concept of the Super Bowl was created. He started his officiating career in a period where players played for love of the game and not for the cash; as a matter of fact, at the start of Tunney's career most players had to work second jobs to make ends meet.
When he retired in 1991, things were much different. Instant replay was being presented to the League, as well as the humble beginings of free agency and millionaire's clubs, which were sprouting in the NFL Players Association. The Super Bowl had become the largest advertising draw in television; and ESPN, along with sports talk radio, could critique Tunney and friends for weeks on end, 24 hours a day. The NFL had become big business, and business was very, very good for the League!
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