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Veteran Referee Back in the Game

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Rochester: Veteran Referee Back in the Game
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In 2009, Pete McCabe of Rochester was violently assaulted at a semi-pro football game. A player, who disagreed with McCabe's call, struck him with a helmet breaking almost every bone in his face and fracturing his skull.

The player, Leon Woods, was sentenced to ten-years in prison. McCabe now has a lawsuit pending against the City of Rochester, claiming the city was negligent for letting the teams play without a permit or security. McCabe says many players have lost respect for the officials.

Two months ago, there was a similar incident in Utah. Richard Portillo, a youth soccer referee died after he was punched in the head by a 17-year-old player.

McCabe has spent the last four years stressing the importance of sportsmanship.

YNN's Christina Noce spoke with McCabe, who has been officiating for twenty-five years, as he stepped onto the football field for the first time in over a year.

Every now and then you come across a story like this one.

"Im really nervous, this is a special thing for me," said McCabe.

A story about perspective.

"The anticipation, I'm more nervous now than I would normally be," said McCabe.

For a man who loves being in the middle of the action, a permanent time out just wasn't an option for this ref.

"During a time out, my head will start pounding," said McCabe.

But undergoing pain like this would be enough to keep most people off the field for good.

"That was a powder keg that night, it was coming," said McCabe.

McCabe remembers hearing his name called. A player who disagreed with a call he made earlier, hit him in the head with a helmet. The bones in his face were broken and his nose was detached.

After years of undergoing reconstructive surgery, McCabe has no feeling in his face and suffers from severe headaches. His doctor says another blow to the face could cost him his life.

"I'm nuts. I just love doing this," said McCabe.

Just standing next to McCabe as he officiated Saturday's Eddie Meath All-Star game, could make anyone a little nervous.

One blow from a football helmet, almost cost Pete McCabe his life. So the possibility of being trampled by the average high school football player weighing in at 225 lbs or being hit by a ball traveling 30 mph can be deadly.

So why risk it? McCabe says after suffering this kind of pain, he turns to the only thing that takes it all away.

"I was told not to officiate but I was not gonna let that incident ruin my life and stop me from doing something I really wanted to do," said McCabe.

"I had to prove to myself that I could beat what happened to me...and I did it,"said McCabe.

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