Inspirational First Down Park honors legendary NFL referee Red Cashion

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

Red Cashion served as an NFL referee for 25 years, calling two Super Bowls, and was widely known in the sports world for his signature call, when he would enthusiastically proclaim “First dowwwwwn!” 

Last August, the City of College Station dedicated First Down Park as a tribute to the legendary Cashion, who passed away in February 2019. The ceremony included members of the Cashion family, former Texas A&M football coach R.C. Slocum, family friends Barry Nelson and Cal McNeil, and College Station Mayor Karl Mooney.

The park’s location is on the site of the former Cashion home where Red and Lou Cashion raised their family. It’s now off of Health Science Center Parkway between Viasat and Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. The park features a football-shaped centerpiece and plaques and benches containing quotes from the Cashions and prominent authors that encourage guests to consider their own legacies.

Cashion began officiating in 1952 as a student at Texas A&M and went on to work for numerous high school and college football conferences. He received an array of local community service awards, including Brazos County Volunteer of the Year in 1972 and Brazos County Citizen of the Year in 1994. 

But what was Cashion’s real legacy? A plaque bearing his likeness that’s prominently displayed at the park illustrates it best:

Mason Lee “Red” Cashion had a contagious zeal for the way he famously officiated NFL games, but more distinguishing was his passion and warmth towards people he encountered regardless of their status or creed. He always sought the good in people and was known to have never met a stranger.

His mantra was optimism. He saw life through the lenses of persistence and reinforced positivity in all circumstances. Red’s Rule of Life: be on time, be positive, be calm, be in shape, be professional, be knowledgeable, be enthusiastic and connect with people. “It’s been my experience that if you stay positive and persistent long enough and continue to approach your goals optimistically that you will, indeed, accomplish great things.”

This park now lives in the exact location where Red Cashion and his beloved wife Lou raised their family. Here they instilled a spirit of kindness and optimism within their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Take away all of Red Cashion’s accolades, awards, trophies, and halls of fame, and you’re left with one simple yet often forgotten reminder that he left for humanity – be kind to one another.

Alternatively, this place could be called “enthusiasm park” or “positive park.” First Down Park pays tribute to a man who lived every day with a glass half full. As you sit here awhile, we invite you to enjoy the stillness of the park and think about your legacy. Red’s legacy was enthusiasm – what is yours going to be?

<strong><em><span style="color:#a5a29d" class="has-inline-color">About the Blogger<br></span></em></strong>
About the Blogger

Kelli Nesbitt has served the Parks & Recreation Department for 16 years, the last eight as marketing coordinator. A native of Bryan, Kelli earned a bachelor’s degree in health & kinesiology from Sam Houston State.

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