The image of an Irishman with crisp, white hair and a passion for life comes to mind when remembering Pat Haggerty.
Described at his death in 1994 as an athlete, coach, official and a friend of whomever he met, Haggerty made his presence felt in
Although he traveled widely in his officiating career, Haggerty always returned to his home in
Art McNally, supervisor of officials in the NFL at the time of Haggerty’s death, said the
“Our officials work Super Bowls on a given year when they’re ranked No. 1,” McNally said at the time. “It’s never a case of being anyone’s turn. When a referee gets three games, it’s highly unusual and it’s a testimony to Pat’s ability. Pat worked the game from his heart, totally wrapped up in what he did, and totally respected by all the clubs.” Haggerty has been nominated for the NFL Hall of Fame in
A post-World War II graduate of
Before starting his teaching career, however, Haggerty played baseball in the Detroit Tigers organization, including one year with the Denver Bears in 1953. But it became apparent that a pro baseball career was not in the cards for Haggerty and he became a teacher at
He joined the coaching staff at
Ben Dreith, another longtime NFL official, was a classmate with Haggerty at Denver North and joined the
Haggerty also coached summer baseball with the Old Timers and American Legion programs. Ho officiated football and basketball in the Big 8 and Western Athletic Conferences as well as the NFL. After retiring as an active pro referee, he continued to work for the NFL, monitoring how games were called and evaluating college referees as potential pro officials.
Even when he became seriously ill with the cancer that eventually killed him, Haggerty screened officials at Denver Broncos games for the NFL until three weeks prior to his death.
By Judy Hildner, The Pueblo Chieftain & Irv Moss, The Denver Post