11:29 PM AST

The first official to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame has passed away. The man was 97 years old.

Tom McNally said his father died of natural causes at a hospital in Pennsylvania.

Less than five months after becoming a member of the Hall of Fame, McNally died of a heart attack.

The epitome of integrity and class was described by the NFL commissioner. He was respected by the entire football community. He was the first game official to be in the hall of fame. He was a member of the Hall of Fame.

McNally was the first official to be honored by the NFL as a Hall of Fame member.

It couldn't have been a better choice for the honor than McNally, whose fingerprints are all over how games are called.

Art McNally became the first on-field NFL official to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August. AP Photo/David Dermer, File

After nine years on the field, McNally took over the department in 1968 and stayed involved until he retired in 2015.

Jim Porter said that Art McNally was a quiet, honest man. It was a pleasure to see Art recognized for his decades of service as part of the Class of 2022. His legacy as a strong leader who helped ushered in the advanced training of officials and the technology needed to keep up with a faster and more complicated game will be preserved in Canton.

When he was in the Marines in World War II, McNally began his career as an official. He kept books about more than 3000 games he called in football, basketball and baseball.

High school, college and professional games on the same weekend were once done by McNally.

He was a natural at it. He followed the rules because he was a teacher. He really liked making it fair. To get it right was all he wanted to do. I think that's the thing he liked about the job.

The NFL evaluated and trained officials in a system that is still mostly in place.

The NFL standardized how officials work a game in their positioning and what calls they make to bring more consistency to the sport under his watch.

The All-22 game film was used to teach the officials and to evaluate them. He used weekly training videos and rules quizzes to improve the officials.

Dean Blandino, who was the NFL's head of officiating at the time, said that it was brand-new.

It was kind of cutting- edge. The people were not doing it. The foundation of what we stand on today in the officiating world was laid when art came in and understood what was needed. Every sport has an evaluation system that goes back to Art.

After the 1986 season, McNally got his first chance to work a Super Bowl as a replay official and helped implement the first use of instant replay in the National Football League.

When replay came back in 1999, McNally was steadfast in his belief that the league should use any tool to help officials make the right calls, despite the fact that replay was abolished in 1991.

Ed Hochuli said this summer that he just wanted to get it right. That was defined by art. There is a picture of art in the definition of integrity.

His family includes his wife, Sharon, his children, Marybeth, Tom and Michael, and his grandchild.