An insider’s view of the NFL

An insider’s view of the NFL

By Jeff Gire

Rules analyst: Former NFL Vice President for Officiating Mike Pereira ’72 on campus. Photo by Charles Barry.

The defining moment for a young Mike Pereira ’72 didn’t come on campus or in a classroom. For the centerfielder and finance major, the moment he “found his inspiration” came during his junior year, 1971, on Saturday morning 20 miles north of campus. Attracted by the promise of “30 bucks cash” he had driven up to East Palo Alto to officiate a slate of Pop Warner football games.

“The first time I was on the field with those kids I don’t know what it was, but it was like someone stuck a syringe filled with adrenaline into me,” said Pereira.

Thirty years later, Pereira would be named director of officiating for the NFL. On the way there he was an official for NCAA Division 1 football for 14 years and an NFL official for two. He retired from the NFL after 14 years with the league in 2009 and is currently an analyst for FOX Sports. If a particular play is under review or so complicated it requires an expert’s parsing, he’s the guy who breaks it down for viewers.

Pereira visited the Mission Campus on April 10 for the Ethics at Noon speaker series. The event was co-sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the SCU Athletic Department, and the Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley.

His far-ranging talk touched on his personal journey, which included a battle with testicular cancer—an experience that left a recently graduated Pereira deeply shaken—as well as his views on the current state of the NFL. More than one of his thoughts began “I probably shouldn’t be saying this…” as Pereira was forthright in his appraisal of both the concussion epidemic (“If I did have children, I’m not sure I’d let them play”) and the recent bounty scandal involving the New Orleans Saints (“Did it surprise me? No.”).

The Commonwealth Club has now posted the full talk online, which is steaming and can be found here.

The first 20 minutes or so touch on Pereira’s time at Santa Clara University and his personal journey. From there, he begins talking about the state of the game, providing candid and well-informed reflections during a turbulent time for the country’s most popular sport.
 

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