Texas A&M Football

Aggie Flashback with Red 'First Dooowwwnnn!' Cashion

October 2, 2012

Notes from Red Cashion interview

* He still lives in the Bryan/College Station area and says that his jaw drops open every time he watches Johnny Manziel play. Speed has become the one thing to have in football, especially the quickness speed which Manziel possesses in spades.

* He was born right in the middle of the A&M campus along with 16 other children who were affectionately referred to as “The Campus Brats”. Both him and his brother grew up on the A&M campus and spent their time wandering around down in the steam tunnels.

* He was a quarterback at A&M Consolidated back in his playing days, as was his brother. His brother went on to play for the Aggies and earned MVP honors as a freshman in 1943. His brother, Jim Cashion, has come back up in recent conversation because he was the last freshman before Johnny Manziel to start in his very first game as an Aggie at quarterback.

* He was invited to play at A&M as a walk-on, but he decided in his mind that it wasn’t worth it. A couple of years later, he was upset about not even trying to make the team when someone suggested that he try to be an official for the game instead of a player. He thought that sounded like fun and started officiating during his senior year at A&M.

* In 1952, he worked his first high school football game and from the very first day, he always loved watching the NFL officials on Sundays. After church on Sunday afternoons, he would rush home from church and lay on the couch and would zone out everything around him in order to concentrate on the officials calling the game. He started working as a high school official and worked his way up into calling some of the bigger high school games until he found himself in the Southland Conference officiating contests on Saturdays. However, he was fired from the Southland Conference after one year and ended up in the Southwest Conference. He was also fired from the Southwest Conference, and both times it was because it seemed he didn’t care when in reality he was doing his best to be a stoic figure. After being fired from two different conferences, he continued to pursue his dream of working as an NFL official. One day he was approached about possibly officiating in the NFL and then took a trip to New York out of his own pocket to talk to people at the NFL offices. After braving the cold to get there, he was told that they appreciated him coming, but that the officials for the coming season were already set and he would be considered if there any openings became available. Fortunately for him, a spot opened up and he got the call to join the NFL.

* He worked as a line judge for four years starting in 1972 before becoming a referee and doing that until his retirement.

* He credits the addition of the microphone to the referees as the start of the evolution of the fans thinking more about the game rather than just sitting at watching it. Early on, people would go to the game and yell if the team scored, but you never saw all of the statistics you see now. Once the microphone came in, people started caring about the finer points of the game.

* When he first joined the NFL, it was a very adversarial relationship where the players would cuss the officials and the officials would cuss right back. That mentality began to break down a few years after he became a referee, and he was determined to change things. He made a habit of talking to the players and explaining to them why he called what he did on them.

* The NFL official strike was just a bad situation. The reason it was so bad was that the people who were out there trying to replace the officials just weren’t qualified to do so. He suggests to people that while watching a game, pick about six or seven plays and watching nothing but the guys in stripes. Most times, you have an extraordinary athlete flying down the field, and sure enough the middle aged man is there with him when the ball comes down.

* Going back into the history of the game, players wore leather helmets. The purpose of the leather helmet was to protect the guy who had it on, and not to be used as a weapon when tackling someone. He thinks that eliminating the facemask from today’s helmets would greatly decrease the amount of concussions and head injuries because people would no longer lead with their head out of fear of a busted up face.

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Red 'First Dooowwwnnn!' Cashion...

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