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NFL Officials Exhibit Goes Beyond the Whistle

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Super Bowl referees are the focus at the "You Make the Call" exhibit at the Children's Museum of Manhattan. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

NFL referees can sometimes feel like the forgotten people on the field. But as some kids in Manhattan recently learned, without them there's no game.

"That gets lost sometimes, especially for kids, they see the two teams but without the officials you can't play the game, and they're so important to upholding the integrity and the rules," NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino.

The children are getting a first hand look at what it takes to officiate as part of "You Make the Call: Learn to be an NFL Official" at the Children's Museum of Manhattan. First up, they're making their own penalty flags.

It's all part of an exhibit in conjunction with the Super Bowl coming to town in a little more than three weeks. Among the football lessons for these kids from PS 198 were the hand signals refs use like for touchdowns, it's even part of a catchy dance. There's also an obstacle course highlighting fitness.

There are also practical lessons the kids can get by watching referees as well.

"They have to instantly analyze things based upon all of their knowledge, then they take all of that to make a decision. And this is what kids need to learn how to do, to go through a process, to come to a conclusion, but also to be able to validate that conclusion," said Andrew Ackerman of the Children's Museum of Manhattan.

"It's about decision making, it's about physical activity, it's about teamwork," said New York Giants Co-Owner Laurie Tisch.

One of the coolest aspects of the exhibit is a real NFL instant replay booth. So just like the officials, the kids can go under the hood and review any given play.

"We can actually engage kids in looking at the same play from different perspectives, so they learn we see things differently depending where we are," Ackerman said.

But for the kids, the real focus is on the fun.

"It's a children's museum and like no other museum is like this, they don't do this at the museum," said one youngster.

The exhibit will be open through February 28.

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