Chico NFL Referee To Retire After Pro Bowl
On Thursday, a Chico man leaves on a trip to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. But Don Carlsen is no spectator. He is an NFL referee. Sunday's Pro Bowl will be his last game, before he retires.
After 24 years and 480 NFL games Carlsen is hanging up his stripes. He'll wear his number 39 as a side judge.
At age 66, Carlsen is the league's oldest official. He's perhaps the fittest as well.
"I could physically go out and do it some more," said Carlsen. "I was just ready to move on, that's all."
He played football at Chico State in the 60's. Later officiated high school games and then small colleges, moved up to division one college and ultimately became an NFL side judge in 1989.
Carlsen has scrapbooks filled with memories of an accomplished career. He's especially pround of being on the field at last year's NFC Championship Game, and being named an alternate official for Super Bowl 46 in 2012.
Carlsen said he'll miss the vantage point that the rest of us would treasure. But he won't miss the pressure of having to be right nearly every play.
"Last year was a pretty good season," said Carlsen. "There were about 2,500 plays I officiated. Four of them incorrectly. I'll let you do the math on that."
Besides football, Carlsen enjoys other sports including golf.
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