By Bill Briggs
Denver Post Staff Writer
One night after his notorious reversal of an onfield interception threw NFL referee Pete Morelli into a national storm - and nearly sent Denver packing for Indianapolis - Morelli found himself between a hard place and a rock.
A vandal hurled a grapefruit-sized boulder through a plate-glass window in Morelli's Stockton, Calif., home at about 10 p.m. Monday, according to Stockton Police Lt. Thomas Wells. Morelli, who also works as a high school principal, was home with his wife at the time.
"They were in bed or going to bed when he heard the window break and Mr. Morelli came downstairs. He heard a car speed away and saw a rock," Wells said.
"There is no way to determine whether this had anything to do with his NFL job, or his job as a school principal or whether it was just a random act of malicious mischief," Wells said. "There was no note tied to the rock."
Morelli did not return a message left with a family member, who said the referee has received several threatening phone calls this week.
The NFL has asked its security team to work with Stockton police officers already investigating the attack, said Mike Pereira, the league's vice president of officiating.
"When you live in a small town, people know you, know what you do. You get notoriety and normally that's positive stuff," Pereira said. "It's unnerving. It's just infuriating. We say we live in a fishbowl and this is just living proof.
"He's doing all right," Pereira said, adding that Morelli is not scheduled to work either of the conference championship games this weekend.
In an AFC divisional playoff game Sunday between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu made a diving catch of a pass thrown by the Colts' Peyton Manning with 5:26 to play. Polamalu tumbled with the ball in his hands but dropped it as he stood to run. He then recovered the ball. Colts coach Tony Dungy challenged the interception call. After looking at replays, Morelli ruled Polamalu had not completed the catch.
After the reversal, Indianapolis scored a quick touchdown and a two-point conversion, cutting the Steelers' lead to 21-18. Minutes later, Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard field-goal attempt, giving Pittsburgh the win. On Monday, Pereira admitted that Morelli had goofed, saying that Polamalu "maintained possession long enough to establish a catch."