How to Admit a Mistake: Ed Hochuli

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As a football official you encounter an opportunity to fail on every play of every game. You have to make a decision. I actually say to myself before every play, “Lock and load.” I say it out loud. I’ve done that for years. That is the reminder to me that everything else is now meaningless. You throw the flag or you don’t throw the flag. My most publicized failure—which frankly isn’t my biggest mistake—was three or so years ago in Denver when they played San Diego. It’s a mistake that every referee has made. It’s the whole question about whether it was a pass or a fumble. It’s a very difficult call. I ruled an incomplete pass, but it was a fumble. When that happened, we went to replay. Frankly, I knew I was wrong right after it happened. [Hochuli's call gave the ball to the Broncos.] If it had happened in the first or the second quarter, nobody would have ever said anything about it. But it happened at the end of the game, and Denver won.

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