What we know about the refs… Be careful what you believe on the web about the Saints-Rams game

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Angry fans are posting all kinds of claims, allegations and rants to their social media after the admitted missed call that cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl.

You have to be careful and consider the source of what you see and read.

There are a lot of false reports circulating.

One of the biggest inaccurate reports is that one of the officials who missed the pass interference call late in the game actually played for the Rams.  I have seen post after post saying that Phil McKinnely failed to throw the flag on that pivotal 3rd down.  While it is true that McKinnely played for Rams at one time, and it is true he did not throw a flag on the play... he was in fact NOT even there.

McKinnely is normally on Referee Bill Vinovich's crew, but did not work this game.

His number is 110, according to the NFL Operations website list of all officials.  It was #13 Patrick Turner that was seen getting an earful from Saints Coach Sean Payton after the play.  He was the down judge and one of the officials closest to the play.  The NFL says he went to Cal State- Long Beach.  Google Maps says that is a 25 minute drive from downtown Los Angeles.

Turner made headlines for his speedy sprint down the sidelines matching Darren Sporles step for step on an 82 yard punt return.

The back judge was Todd Prukop.  He is #30 according to the NFL Operations site.

According to Hill Country News Todd Prukop is from the Los Angeles area and played college football at California State Fullerton (32 minutes from downtown L.A.). His brother Tim was on the coaching staffs of the St. Louis Rams, New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals at one time.  He also lives in the L.A. area.  

The referee for Sunday’s game was Bill Vinovich. He also went to college in San Diego. ESPN says he lives in Lake Forest, California.  That is 49 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. 

The rest of the crew included umpire Bruce Stritesky. The site smithmountainlake.com says he is from Roanoke, VA (36 hours from L.A.) and went to college in Daytona Beach, FL (37 hours from L.A.)

Line judge Rusty Baynes went to college at Auburn-Montgomery (31 hours) and grew up in Alabama.  His dad was a Super Bowl line judge twice.

Field judge Tom Hill went to college at Carson Newman in Tennessee (33 hours).

So, we know that none of the officials played for the Rams, despite what you may see on-line.  We also know that one official's brother did coach for the Rams while they were in St. Louis.  Additionally, we have learned as well that four of the seven officials in the game have close ties to California and the Los Angeles area... including those who were closest to the play and in charge of the crew.

I'm not sure what we take away from all of that, but there is so much circulating now that I thought it would be good to put together a full list of the officials and what we actually know about them.