One such hero of mine is Dr. Jim Tunney, CSP, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame of Pebble Beach, California, better known to those of us who have followed professional football over the years as “Number 32.”
Jim has been a friend and colleague for nearly four decades. Not only have I enjoyed sharing the platform with him over the years but we were honored together in 2000 in Washington, DC by the National Speakers Association. I was awarded the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame and Jim was honored with The Cavett, considered to be the Oscar of the Speaking Profession.
Jim was recently in the news again when he received The Art McNally Award presented by the National Football League at their summer seminar of the NFL’s officials in Dallas, Texas.
Jim was affectionately called “The Dean of NFL Officials” by the likes of John Madden and Pat Summeral. “The Art McNally Award” is an annual honor created in 2002 by the then National Football League (NFL) Commissioner, Paul Tagliabue. It is given to an NFL game official who exhibits exemplary professionalism, leadership, and commitment to sportsmanship, on and off the field.
Jim Tunney’s career in the NFL is exactly that — exemplary. He was the on-field official for 31 years and was known simply as “Number 32, the Dean of Officials.” He was the referee in three Super Bowls (VI – XI – XII). His back-to-back Super Bowls have never been equaled.
Further, he received 29 post-season assignments (out of a possible 31); ten championship games; six Pro Bowl assignments and a record 25 Monday Night Football games, when MNF was the game of the week.
Because of his posture for signals on the field, he was actually the model for The Official’s Signals in every game-day program for 19 years.
His undergraduate degree was at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he played football, basketball, and baseball. In his senior year, he coached the freshman baseball team at OXY, which won the conference championship with a 23-2 record.
Upon graduation, he was named Athlete of-the-Year. As a physical education major, he began his four-year teaching and coaching at Lincoln High School in East Los Angeles. His four-year career in high school basketball coaching produced two league championships, the last of which was an undefeated season, the only undefeated basketball season in the 110-year history of the school.
His educational career took him to the University of Southern California where he completed his Master’s in Education and followed that by earning his Doctorate in Education (Ed. D.)
In 1993, he founded the Jim Tunney Youth Foundation, a (501C-3) which makes financial grants to local youth organizations. To date, the foundation has granted over quarter million dollars.
Jim Tunney had an exemplary career in sports. A former high school coach, teacher, Principal and District Superintendent, he had a 40-year career in officiating football and basketball.
He officiated some of the most memorable games in NFL history, including:
—“The Ice Bowl” (1967 NFL Championship)
—“The Kick” (2001 Raiders versus Patriots Divisional Championship
—“The 100th Bears-Packers Game” (2007 played at Lambeau Field, Green Bay)
—“The Snowball Game” (1985 San Francisco at Denver)
—The “Final Fumble” (1987 AFC Championship Cleveland at Denver)
—“The Fog Bowl” (1988 Philadelphia at Chicago at Soldier Field)
—“The Catch” (1981 NFC Championship Game played 1/10/1982 at Candlestick Park won by San Francisco over Dallas)
His book “Impartial Judgment: The Dean of NFL Referees” calls pro football as he sees it and chronicles his NFL career.
He formed his own professional speaking business and speaks to Fortune 500 companies, large and small corporations and associations on topics of leadership, team building, integrity, and customer service.
He joined the National Speakers Association and has served on its Board of Directors and elevated to President. He was inducted into NSA’s Speaker Hall of Fame and holds every designation and award given by that association, including
The Cavett, the “Oscar” of professional speaking.
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Michael Aun is a syndicated columnist and writes a weekly column for this newspaper. To contact Michael Aun, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.