When the NFL officiating crew arrives in Pittsburgh for Sunday's football game at Heinz Field, the seven-man team will play Santa to young athletes living in western Pennsylvania by presenting a donation to the Citiparks BIG League Sports program.
"This year Pittsburgh was a perfect choice for a number of reasons, including the timing of the Steelers-Jets game and the outstanding reputation of the City's Recreation Department," according to Don Carlsen, the side judge chosen to organize the group's donation. "Just before Christmas, every crew in the National Football League will support a charity in the city where they're working, and our crew couldn't be happier that we'll be spending the weekend in the City of Pittsburgh."
Citiparks Pittsburgh BIG League Sports, which hosts a variety of programs that include baseball, softball, futsal, soccer and special programs for teams, involves hundreds of volunteers who coach and manage the competitions.
"We are extremely grateful for the NFL officials' support of BIG League," according to Citiparks Director Mike Radley. "And we're extremely excited that this donation will benefit local boys and girls by designating the funds to specifically support programming."
According to referee Pete Morelli, "Our crew is pleased to support BIG League, which promotes the development of sportsmanship and a healthy lifestyle in addition to providing numerous venues for organized team competition."
"Each member of the seven-man crew, along with our two replay assistants, will write a personal check for $100 as our way of ‘giving back' to the community and looking forward to bright futures for these young athletes," he said.
Making the donation to Citiparks BIG League Sports will be: Peter Morelli, Referee; Ruben Fowler, Umpire; George Hayward, Head Linesman; John Hussey, Line Judge; Jon Lucivansky, Field Judge; Don Carlsen, Side Judge; Rob Vernatchi, Back Judge; Al Hynes, Replay Official; and Don Langeloh, Video Operator. Also attending will be NY Supervisor Ed Coukart.
Accepting the donation will be Citiparks Assistant Director Dick Skrinjar.