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MCT 2008

In celebration of Arizona's centennial, the Star will feature our picks for the 100 best athletes, moments and teams.

Throughout the summer, we will showcase our list - with the first 90 in no particular order. In August, Greg Hansen will choose his top 10, with a column on each.

Ed Hochuli


Ed Hochuli, a practicing attorney in Phoenix, often gets stopped in public places with adoring fans asking for autographs, a picture or just a quick conversation.

But Hochuli's fame has little to do with the courtroom. An NFL official since 1990 and a head referee since 1992, Hochuli, a Canyon del Oro graduate, is one of the best known NFL officials.

Nicknamed "Guns" because of his impressive size and strength, Hochuli is a fan favorite because of his interesting, well thought out descriptions during games for penalties or other situations.

"It never ceases to amaze me, the number of people that will just come up to me and recognize me," Hochuli told the Star in 2006. "But football's unusual - there really is no other sport where the game actually stops and the official talks to the fans. I never anticipated the (publicity) that would come with it."

Hochuli, who moved to Tucson from Milwaukee when he was 8, began officiating while he was a law student at Arizona. It began with Pop Warner games and he hit nearly every level on his way to the NFL, calling high school, junior college and college games.

He began in the NFL in 1990 as a back judge, and in 1992 was promoted to referee.

In 1998, Hochuli was the head ref for Super Bowl XXXII between the Broncos and Packers. He worked his second Super Bowl in 2004 in Houston, which featured New England and Carolina.

Hochuli served as the head referee for the first regular-season NFL game outside the USA when the Cardinals and 49ers played in Mexico in 2005. He was also the head ref when Brett Favre became the career leader for completions in the NFL in 2006.

He was also the center of controversy in 2008 when an incorrect call was made at the end of a San Diego Chargers-Denver Broncos game, ruling a fumble by Denver's Jay Cutler an incomplete pass. The Broncos retained possession and eventually beat the Chargers.

"It was really an easy play," Hochuli told Referee magazine in 2009. "I've thought many times why I did what I did. The best explanation is it was almost like dyslexia. I realized it was a fumble and did the wrong thing. I realized it was wrong but there was nothing I could do about it."

Hometown, age

Milwaukee, 60

He said it

"Any official would tell you the same story - you get hooked. It's like having a main line of adrenaline running in your vein for three hours on Sunday night. It's like standing on a cliff." - Hochuli, to in 2009

Daniel Berk