NFL referee Tony Corrente has faced a lot of criticism this week for a taunting penalty he called in the Chicago Bears-Pittsburgh Steelers game on Monday night. Many people disagreed with the call, but the problem for others is that they felt Corrente had it out for the player he flagged. Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms is among those who believe that is what happened.
Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh was called for taunting his former team after a big sack on third down late in the close game. He also made contact with referee Tony Corrente as he was clearing off the field. Marsh’s Bears teammates thought the penalty was “BS” and voiced complaints about it.
Corrente didn’t throw the flag until he and Marsh bumped one another, but he said the contact had nothing to do with the call. Simms, who was a quarterback in the NFL for eight seasons, explained why he is not buying that during Tuesday’s edition of “Pro Football Talk.”
Simms said he once took a very late hit in a game against the San Francisco 49ers that Corrente was officiating. He got up and complained about Corrente not throwing a flag, and he said he may have even cursed at the ref. After that point, Simms said Corrente stopped doing him and his team the standard courtesy of letting them know when the game would be coming out of TV timeouts. He says Corrente admitted he was doing it intentionally because of the way Simms complained about the late hit.
“Usually when you come back from commercial breaks and there’s stoppage time, the referee kind of gives the quarterback a warning like, ‘Hey, call your play, I’m about to blow the whistle.’ He’s not doing anything to me,” Simms recalled. “Now we’ve gone through three commercial breaks, a quarter break, and he’s just blowing the whistle and starting the clock while we’re all just standing around waiting for things.
“Finally, I go, ‘Are you gonna warn me before you start the clock again? Usually that’s protocol.’ He goes, ‘Are you gonna apologize for what you said to me earlier?’ I wanted to lose my crap. After the game, I wanted to call him out. If we won, I probably would have. He just showed me he got personal and was gonna take the game into his own hands there.”
Simms believes Corrente would have thrown the flag on Marsh five seconds sooner if he had nothing to do with Marsh and Corrente bumping one another. Some even thought Corrente leaned into Marsh to initiate the contact. For what it’s worth, Corrente had his hand on the flag before the bump.
Corrente justified his penalty call after the game. He insisted the flag was in no way related to him and Marsh bumping each other. The NFL also looked into the play and backed Corrente’s handling of the situation.