Posted by John Thomas
The meeting was opened at 12:15 by President Tom Nash and followed by a “Thought for the Day” from Lee Padgett. Then the pledge of allegiance was led by Brooke Peppey. Lunch was served and the meeting itself started about 12:40. The lunch meeting was in the Winnetka Community House and with 29 of our 54 members (57%) in attendance. There were 6 guests present.
HAPPY BUCKS: Rich Lalley gave money in thanks to John Stone and, more importantly, to kick off the Operation Warm (winter coats for kids) 2017 campaign. Patti Van Cleave gave $25 honoring Luvie Owens’ 25 years of Rotary membership.
DIG & GRIN:  Mark Kotz delivered a low-key humorous story.
SPEAKER NOTES:  The speaker this day was introduced by Fred Schwimmer, who is his cousin. Jerry Markbreit was a legendary NFL Referee from 1976 to 1998 and then a replay official in 1999 and 2000. He had been a Big Ten referee for about 12 years.  He started his comments with a 7 minute DVD that showed him in action and included a few of his memorable, but rare, goofs.
Markbreit then entertained the attendees with a series of anecdotes illustrating how taking chances was beneficial to him. He also noted that no officials are perfect and the best ones are those who make the fewest mistakes.  He started his NFL career in 1976 as a line judge on the officiating team of the legendary referee, Tommy Bell. The first weekend on that team, Bell told him a custom was to start their Sundays with a trip to a local church. Markbreit noted he was Jewish and Bell said “come any way, you might learn something”. The officiating crew had a perfect Sunday and Markbreit went to church every game Sunday.  Living in Chicago, he and his 6 person officiating team did not call a Bears home game for the first 11 years of his NFL work. When he finally got that assignment, it was a Bears vs Green Bay game. In a complex double-penalty play, a Green Bay player illegally jammed quarterback Jim McMahon into the ground. He called the penalty in the Bears favor rather than have it be offset. The Green Bay action was so flagrant Markbreit felt it appropriate to step outside the rules.  He said heart, humor and toughness were needed to be an NFL official – and in college or high school football as well. However, the most important skill is the ability to focus on the split seconds when the action occurs.
He finished speaking with time left for a few questions. The first was asking his opinion on instant replay. With a wry smile he said that it was here to stay. When asked about the officiating team he worked with, he said they worked 16 weekends a year and the team stayed mostly the same year after year. His mates became some of his lifelong friends. Lastly, he said he shares everyone’s concerns about the recent finds on the CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) danger.
The meeting closed at 1:34 with the recitation of Rotary’s 4-way test.