The NFL playoffs return this weekend with the divisional round playoffs, and that means more of Mike Pereira in our life. The regular changes in the NFL rulebook, coupled by near regular controversy on instant replay led to Pereira becoming the first rules expert for TV broadcasts.
Pereira has moved into print media as well. He has a regular column in the Sacramento Bee, and recently sat down with The Athletic Bay Area to talk about his work. The reason for the Northern California connection? Pereira grew up in Stockton, CA and attended Santa Clara University. His officiating career took him through the Big West conference before he was hired by the NFL in 1996.
It turns out Pereira grew up a fan of the San Francisco 49ers. He seems to be more just the proverbial “fan of the league” or “fan of good football” or whatever you want to call it. But when he first entered the NFL, his dad made sure he was clear on where his loyalties needed to be.
“I said … ‘Dad, I’m in the NFL,’ and it was amazing, because there was dead silence on the phone,” Pereira recalled. “Finally, he said, ‘There’s just one thing I want you to know.’
“At that point, being somewhat emotional, I remember … beginning to break down. I felt like I’d finally achieved something in his eyes, and I was waiting for him (to break the silence).
“Instead, he just said right into the phone, ‘Don’t fuck the 49ers.’ … He hung up the phone, he walked out to the first tee where all of his buddies were waiting for him, he put the ball on a tee, and hit the longest drive he’d hit in his entire life.”
I think that’s entirely reasonable advice.
The Athletic is a subscription site, but this article is unlocked for the time being. It’s a fun read.