Tony Corrente leaned into Cassius Marsh before throwing controversial taunting flag

Carolina Panthers v Pittsburgh Steelers
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If you thought the taunting call on Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh was weird, another element of the broader incident was even weirder.

Marsh, flagged for taunting the sideline and/or Pittsburgh’s punter after a key fourth-quarter sack of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, jogged past referee Tony Corrente, before the flag was thrown. Corrente, as noted by Will Brinson of, leaned into Marsh, creating contact between player and referee. Corrente then made a big deal out of throwing his flag straight into the sky.

While it’s entirely possible that Marsh’s behavior crossed the get-off-my-lawn line that the NFL has drawn between permissible celebration and prohibited in-your-face antics, Corrente’s behavior seems very odd.

And because referees don’t have to conduct press conferences after games (in some situations, the league allows one reporters to question the referee), Corrente likely will never have to publicly explain what in the hell he was doing. Privately, that may be a different story. Someone at 345 Park Avenue undoubtedly will (or at least should) play the video for Corrente and ask him to explain himself.

67 responses to “Tony Corrente leaned into Cassius Marsh before throwing controversial taunting flag

  1. I’m not much into hyperbole. That said, Tony Corrente should be fired by the NFL tomorrow morning. That video was damning.

  2. The lean was nothing. He already had his hand on the flag and was going to throw it anyway. They just bumped.

  3. Let’s also not forget the Bears drive where the refs called off a Bears TD for a legal block which apparently isn’t reviewable and then allowed a late hit by the Steelers against Fields that would’ve been called if his name was Roethlisberger or Brady.

    Refereeing has been getting worse but tonight it was decidedly obvious and lopsided.

  4. The Bears shot repeatedly themselves in the foot tonight. The NFL refs rendered first-aid by means of multiple .22s to the backs of their heads.

  5. Because the game was fixed for the Steelers to win. Bears outplayed the Steelers ever since the 2nd quarter yet all their big plays get wiped out by penalties. Yet the team that practically invented roughing the passer gets no penalties whatsoever what a disgrace.

  6. I noticed that, it would’ve been far more strange if they called a penalty for contact with an official. Didn’t seem to change the call one way or another but it was strange.

  7. First thing is, I despise Cassius Marsh and his habit crybaby comments. Also, I don’t mind enforcement of blatant, in your face, childish taunting calls. Yet this call was not even close to deserving a flag. The only penalty deserved is the fining and suspension of Tony Corrente for one of the worst calls and worst game changing called games ever. Yet, not one major sport holds incompetent or dishonest officiating accountable. It’s time to start.

  8. Who would have guessed the Officiating in the NFL would become suspect right after the league accepts mainstream legalized gambling?

  9. It is about time the officials have to answer to something. Too many games so far this season have had their outcomes changed due to terrible calls or non calls. This season it continues to get worse and worse with no consequences.
    The league needs to step up and do something about this. It is the greatest game and sport in the country and the games are being determined by the teams wearing white and black stripes.

  10. The game tonight was one of the worst officiated this year,that referee lost control of himself and probably should take some time off! Taunting after a play shouldn’t be able to change a play that is over either! The NFL has screwed this up! Taunting needs to be like the personal fouls counted towards the next play when called after a play is over and they could even have a two taunts and you’re out policy! It was obvious in this game the Bears player was not taunting another player to embarrass him. This was a bad call!

  11. Honestly he’s sucked all year and him and his crew were terrible in this game. They need to start hiring some younger refs who don’t think the game is about them. Also the Bears in general got hosed in this one

  12. Marsh didn’t deserve to get flagged on that play. Tony Corrente *should* be called on the carpet for the bad call, let alone the referee’s bizarre hip-check of Marsh as he was jogging to the sideline.

  13. If he acted professionally, he wouldn’t have drawn the flag. In terms of the ref, not sure I agree with the leaning in part.

  14. Taunting is the stupidest rule in the NFL in how it’s implimented.

    You have a 15 yard penalty for silly things but any defensive turnover you have a 5 min full coreography that goes unflagged.

  15. There’s been multiple times this year that referees have decided games with bogus or unjust calls. The NFL is literally rigging games right in front of our eyes, and nobody in the media is even really saying anything about it.

  16. The taunting wording of the NFL rulebook is quite vague, but reasonably the illicit act must rise above merely looking at opposing players from many yards away. That Tony chose to enforce the rule over some distanced macho staring at such a critical point of the game, combined with his churlish hip check, means that Tony should be urged to consider an early retirement.

  17. I hate to say it, but the thought that immediately comes to mind is that Corrente is being paid to throw the game. Between this and the “low block” call…

  18. Chicago had two 15 yard BOGUS penalties, and one non call for roughing the QB.
    First, the illegal block below the knees on JT Watt, Bears right guard never made contact with Watt. The Taunting call, and the non roughing call.
    Corrente was involved on all three.
    Those three calls cost Bears the game.
    The taunting call turned a punt into a FG for Pittsburgh.
    The illegal block took away a TD
    The roughing call took away a TD.

  19. Sometimes players say things to refs and other players during a game that we at home are not privy to. Marsh should learn to control himself going forward, he cost his team, plain and simple.

  20. After last night, Corrente has no business being in the NFL. The officiating was more than a few blown calls. It’s games like these that make me wonder if some refs are making more than a little on the side. The more I see it, the less I want to watch.

  21. The entire scene was bizarre! No sane or reasonable person could have considered it taunting, and it was clear that Corrente initiated the contact. In fact, he not only leaned in to get the contact, he stood in his path to ensure there was!

    Something is very, very wrong with this official. I’m sure Goodell will sweep it under the rug like the Snyder investigation when what’s warranted is discipline!

  22. So the Ref hip checks a player, taunts him w a flag he throws for taunting, then wipes out a TD for a non existent penalty…. How much money did they say he had on the Steelers?

  23. I can’t believe a player would completely lose his mind at a critical point in a game, and cost his team so dearly. What on earth was Marsh thinking? Has he been living under a rock the last 6 months? Corrente probably couldn’t believe it either. It was at such a critical time in the game, Corrente was probably reluctant to throw his flag, so it looked like he started to move toward slowing down Marsh so he could have a word with him about it, but then decided he had to throw his flag. I completely understand Corrente’s movement in that situation. That’s a non-issue with me.

  24. How much did Corrente have on the Steelers last night?

    Two big penalties that hurt the Bears. Referees can greatly change the outcome of games.

  25. Weird because he was specifically asked after the game and then the reporter followed up on it again…

  26. I love the league – but it’s getting more and more difficult to believe that it’s not rigged.

  27. Cassius Marsh is not exactly a Mensa candidate. Just looking at him reminds me of that detective’s line regarding the character Earl played by Bill Pullman in Ruthless People. “This could very well be the stupidest person on the face of the earth. Perhaps we should shoot him.”

  28. The Bears didn’t do themselves any favors with a ton of stupid penalties, like lining up in the neutral zone, but they were able to overcome most. The most costly ones were when the refs threw questionable flags and cost the Bears the game. They outplayed Pittsburgh in the 2nd half, but those penalties, two in particular, and several no-calls hurt.

    PS, I’m tired of Mario Edwards reliably getting flagged for 15 every game.

  29. The No Fun League strikes again. These refs really think fans are paying to see them out there

  30. Forget the explanation, if a player did that he would be fined, maybe thrown out of the game. Corrente needs to be suspended for one or more games.

  31. Not that I agree but is it any wonder that some fans feel that games are fixed or attempted to be fixed. With gambling more prevelant that feeling may get more intense.

  32. Yep, really weird, and a bad call all around. I keep saying this – the NFL is all-in on gambling now, but they let stuff like this happen, and it affects the outcome of games.

    Besides this call there were some uncalled late hits on Fields (at least 2, if not more) and a very bogus roughing call against the Bears when Ben flopped, for which they didn’t show the replay – which broadcasts will do when they’re covering for the worst calls.

    Referees should be held accountable, and obviously bad calls should be overruled. C’mon – what happened to “the integrity of the shield”? Or does that just go out the window because of money?

  33. Dude was taunting. Get up after the play and go back to your huddle. He wanted to be Mr. Big Man and head toward the Steelers bench and stare them down. Way to cost your team.

  34. Allowing such a close relationship with the gambling industry puts the NFL at great risk in these situations of giving the appearance that an official could, if necessary, affect the game in ways the gambling industry has historically not appreciated.

  35. That was the worse officiating I’ve seen in a long time. I thought Justin Fields was going to get killed and no penalty for roughing the passer. The only thing the NFL created with the new taunting penalty, is the ability for the referees to call unnecessary flags at the most inopportune times. They are effecting the outcome of games.

  36. In a private conversation between myself and a friend, who has been a referee for high school sports in Texas for decades, I told him that no one other than maybe a referee’s wife ever came to a game to watch an official.

    It’s out of control at every level. Every single level of football, and basketball, for sure. I don’t know about hockey or soccer; don’t watch those as much. I don’t notice it nearly as much in baseball. In football and in basketball, though, it’s NOT just about doing their job. It’s about impacting the game. And it’s taking away from the game in the process.

    I hope an official somewhere is reading this. If you have ever thrown a flag to upstage ANYONE, you are in the wrong. And I don’t care if you never get called out or not, because you think you’re untouchable. No one is above being questioned.

  37. I’m not usually one to worry about the refs – but three major misses (the low block that took a TD off the board, the blatant non-call for roughing the passer two plays later, and the ridiculous taunting call coupled with the hip bump and the stare down by the ref) all by one guy is really a bad look. Who knows his motivation. Best case here is that the guy had an awful day that most certainly changed the outcome of the game. An investigation is absolutely warranted.

  38. How about the 50 other BS flags him & his crew threw against the Bears? Typical favorable treatment for that other team.

  39. Considering Marsh’s position coach chewed him out on the sideline ON LIVE TV, it seems even the coaches knew that it was a deserved penalty.

  40. I know everyone loves to hate officials, but for one, since it was a taunting call, and not “unsportsmanlike contact with an official”, he wasn’t penalized for the bump. But at the same time, the official never moves his feet, it looks to me like he’s trying to turn away from the player to not get bumped, but it’s not his job to run away if a player runs into him. If you have the whole entire field to run on after the play and you run directly into an official without him moving his feet, then that’s on you and he’s lucky he was only penalized for the taunt which the official was going to throw anyways. He probably threw it with intensity because the stupid player who taunted him just ran into him and technically should be ejected but the official gave him lenience to only call him for the original taunt. Just don’t give them a chance to make that call, instead of complaining about it afterwards when you could have just run one more step to the side.

  41. Corrente was told by Goodell to create penalties against Chicago.

    345 will not be asking Corrente anything, but Congress should.

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