Mark Hittner is an American football official in the National Football League (NFL) since the beginning of the 1997 NFL season. He works as a head linesman and wears the uniform number 28. He is most notable for officiating in the last three of five Super Bowls, most recently in Super Bowl XL on February 5, 2006 between the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Hittner played college football at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas from 1976 to 1979 where he was an all-conference quarterback in 1978-79 and is the school’s second-leading career passer in yards (4,830).
Hittner was a college football official in the Big Eight/Big 12 Conference for 13 years prior to joining the NFL in 1997. He worked the first Big 12 championship game at the Trans World Dome in St. Louis in 1996, won by the Texas Longhorns over the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 37-27.
For the 2011-2012 NFL season, Hittner was the referee during the NFC Championship Game who blew his whistle unusually hastily to call a play dead on a fumble by Ahmad Bradshaw when San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman stripped the ball. The official call was that forward progress had stopped, which negated the fumble, even though Bradshaw was still fighting for extra yardage when the ball was stripped. This call happened late in the fourth quarter in a tie game in field goal range for the 49ers who presumably would have run out the clock and kicked the field goal to advance to Super Bowl XLVI. The game went into overtime where the New York Giants would win. The day after the game, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said the call was analogous to the controversial Tuck Rule during the 2002 AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Raiders and Patriots.
Outside of his NFL officiating duties, Hittner owns a financial services company in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.
Hittner is married and has three sons.
Super Bowl XL
Hittner was the head linesman on the Super Bowl XL officiating crew headed by referee Bill Leavy. The game was most notable for the media and fan reaction to the officiating. Hittner is most notable for a touchdown call he made in the second quarter with two minutes remaining in the first half. On third down from the Seattle one-yard line, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took the snap, faked a handoff, and dove toward the left side of a pile along the goal-line before being hit by Seahawks linebacker D.D. Lewis. After first raising one hand (as if to indicate that the quarterback was down), Hittner raised a second arm to signal a touchdown. The play stood after instant replay review. Hittner later said about the play, "That was probably the closest goal-line call I've ever had. Jeez, that was close. My mechanics were not the best on that. I thought 'touchdown' in my head, and then I went up with one arm, which means the play is over, but I should have gone with two arms. I was thinking one thing and did another. I've seen a lot of video on it, and he’s in the end zone. It's not by a whole lot, but he's in there."