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Monday, September 18, 2006
Instant replay official gets death threat, considers resigning

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The instant replay official whose failure to overturn a bad call led to a narrow Oregon victory over Oklahoma said Monday he feels like he is under siege after threatening phone calls, including a death threat.

Gordon Riese said he would make a decision soon about whether to finish the season, or even whether to return next year.

"I'm struggling with it," Riese said in an interview at his home. "I feel so bad I missed that call, it's driving me crazy."

A former college baseball pitcher in the 1960s who was inducted into the Portland State Hall of Fame in 1997, Riese said he never played football but always enjoyed the game during 28 years as a Pacific-10 Conference official.

"I loved it, I absolutely loved it," Riese said.

But that was before he became an instant replay official.

"I've felt much, much more pressure as an instant replay official than I ever did on the field," Riese said.

He said the equipment is not as sophisticated as NFL replay equipment, and does not allow the official to freeze the frame. But Riese lays the blame on himself after replays showed that an onside kick was touched by an Oregon player before it had traveled the required 10 yards. The Ducks went on to score the go-ahead touchdown.

"I can't sleep, I can't eat, my blood pressure is skyrocketing," Riese said, looking haggard and worn as he sat on the front porch of his house.

His wife is a registered nurse, and has been checking his blood pressure every four hours, he said.

Riese said he has stopped answering the phone, and police are investigating the threatening calls while keeping an eye on his neighborhood.

"They not only threatened me, they threatened my wife and kids," Riese said.

Riese has endured plenty of physical pain in his career. He said a torn rotator cuff ended his pitching days, all the ligaments in his right knee were torn when he was hit by an Oregon defensive back at Autzen Stadium in a 1984 game against Washington State, and he suffered a separated collarbone when he was run over by opposing linemen trying to block each other in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.

The knee and the collarbone still bother him, occasionally, he said.

But not as much as his ruling from the booth last Saturday, Riese said.

"I don't know how to deal with it," he said. "I guess it's just one of those things."