Referee Bill Leavy's surprise admission stands as the most notable officiating-related development in the NFC West this offseason.
A smaller one slipped through unnoticed -- almost, anyway.
Don Carey, the rookie referee San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary confronted at halftime of the 2009 regular-season opener, has been reassigned to work as a back judge under Ed Hochuli.
"You don’t want to hear what I said (to Carey)," Singletary told reporters in the aftermath of the game against Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium. "It was very positive. He may not say that."
Singletary was joking about the "very positive" part.
"Really, what it came down to, when you’re making calls out there, have somebody over there near me that can relay some kind of information and I’ll be fine," Singletary explained at the time. "And that’s what we talked about. That happened in the second half. It worked out a lot better."
Carey suffered two replay reversals in the 49ers' game at Arizona and three more the next week. He finished the season with 11, tied for second-most among NFL referees behind Al Riveron (13). In Week 3, Carey's sixth reversal of the season returned possession to the Chicago Bears following Matt Forte's fumble at the Seattle 1-yard line (David Hawthorne had recovered for the Seahawks). I remember thinking replays did not appear conclusive.
Clete Blakeman, a field judge under Leavy last season, has replaced Carey as referee for 2010. Carey's more famous brother, Mike, remains one of 17 referees (he has been one since 1995).
The NFL has shuffled multiple crews for 2010. Referee Peter Morelli's crew has a league-high seven members new since 2009 (each worked on a different crew last season).
Six officials from 2009 are not returning in any capacity for 2010: John Schleyer, who served as head linesman under referee Jerome Boger; Carl Johnson, line judge under Don Carey; Charles Stewart, line judge under Carl Cheffers; Bill Schmitz, back judge under Morelli; and Clayton Judge, video operator under Al Riveron.
A seventh, back judge Bob Lawing, died from cancer in May. Officials will honor him by wearing a memorial patch on their hats this season. Lawing worked under referee Walt Coleman.