When every NFL fan around the country knows a referee’s name following a game, it’s usually for a very bad reason. That’s exactly what happened with Tony Corrente following the Bears’ Monday Night Football loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the Bears trying to mount a fourth-quarter comeback, Corrente called a controversial taunting penalty on Cassius Marsh, while appearing to intentionally hip-check Marsh. It seems unheard of that a referee would instigate contact with a player on the field, but according to current Pro Football Talk host and former quarterback Chris Simms, this isn’t new for Corrente.
“I’ve seen Tony Corrente get personal to people on the field before,” Simms said on Pro Football Talk. “I’ve experienced it, I’ve seen it. I don’t mean to go after the guy, but I’m going after the guy. I’ve seen it, I’ve witnessed it personally.
“I got hit late in a San Francisco game. I threw the ball, I’m taking like four steps and I’m looking up in the stands, then I get cracked in the earhole. And I get up and I’m like, ‘That was a late hit!’ And I might have said the ‘F’ word too. It was third down, so then I run off the field.
“Usually when you come back from commercial break and stoppage time, the referee kind of gives the quarterback a kind of warning, like ‘Hey, call your play I’m about to blow the whistle.’ He’s not doing anything to me. Now we’ve gone through three commercial breaks, a quarter break and he’s just blowing the whistle while we’re all just standing around waiting for things to go, and he’s just starting the clock. So finally I go, ‘Are you going to warn me before you start the clock again? Usually that’s protocol.’ And he just goes, ‘Are you going to apologize to what you said to me earlier?’
"I wanted to lose my crap, and after the game I wanted to call him out. If we won I probably would have. But he just showed me, he was going to get personal, he was going to take the game into his own hands there.”
When asked after the game, Corrente said he wasn’t aware he had even made contact with Marsh.
"That I'm not aware of at all, no,” Corrente said. “I didn't judge that as anything that I dealt with."
When pressed on the matter, since video clearly showed him bumping into Marsh, Corrente insisted he called a flag based purely on Marsh staring at the Steelers bench from the middle of the field.
“That (bump) had nothing to do with it,” Corrente said. “It was the taunting aspect.”
But based on his previous experience with Corrente, Simms said he’s skeptical of his story.
“I don’t buy any of it,” Simms said. “I don’t buy his answer. I’m calling him a liar, I don’t really care. I don’t buy it.”