Longtime NFL referee Jeff Triplette to retire

Longtime NFL referee Jeff Triplette is retiring, a source confirmed Sunday morning.

The news comes one day after Triplette's eventful performance in the Tennessee Titans' 22-21 wild-card playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Triplette's decision is not believed to have been a direct result of that game, but he was not immediately available for comment to explain his reasons.

The NFL declined to comment, but news of Triplette's retirement was first reported by NFL Network.

Triplette joined the NFL in 1996 and was promoted to referee in 1999. His career has included a number of high-profile incidents, most notably when he inadvertently hit Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Orlando Brown in the eye with a penalty flag during a game in 1999, temporarily blinding him.

Overall, however, Triplette's performance was good enough in the eyes of NFL administrators to spur a two-decade career as a referee. The league grades officials on every play of every game, and consistently low grades over a three-year period are supposed to lead to dismissal.

Saturday night, Triplette blew his whistle early on what appeared to be a fumble by Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, negating what would have been a Chiefs recovery. The Titans kicked a 49-yard field goal on the next play. Triplette also used incorrect details to explain an accurate decision to award Mariota a touchdown a tipped pass.

Finally, Triplette's crew awarded Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson a touchdown on a fumble return in the fourth quarter. Replay showed that Titans running back Derrick Henry was down by contact before the fumble, and the call was reversed upon review.