I-Team10: Referee, brutally attacked by player three years ago, sues city and gets back on the field

Posted at: 11/12/2012 7:28 AM
Updated at: 11/12/2012 7:29 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

He was a football referee, brutally attacked by a player almost three years ago to the day. He was struck in the head by one of the player's helmets and his doctors didn't think he would make it through the first night.

But now -- for the very first time -- Peter McCabe is sitting down to tell his story and he's doing it exclusively with I-Team10.

Peter McCabe has a lawsuit against the city. Even though he was attacked by one of the players, the lawsuit says the city was negligent letting the teams play at all without a permit, insurance or security.

McCabe still suffers severe headaches and numbness in his face, but the pain goes away when he walks back out onto the field.

Game night

It's Sunday night and referring the game between Aquinas and Rush Henrietta is Peter McCabe.

The players and coaches know who he is and what it took for him to get back out here.

"I love the football field," McCabe said.

Three years ago he thought he'd never see it again.

The attack

McCabe was referring a semi-pro game in the city. He was walking off the field when he heard someone call his name.

"The next thing I heard was "Pete" and as I turned that's when it happened," he said.

One of the players -- Leon Woods -- swung his helmet and struck McCabe in his face.

"The gentleman behind me saved my life by yelling my name because if I hadn't turned my face he would have hit me (in the temple) and I would have died instantly on the field according to what the doctors' said." McCabe said.

Someone snapped a pictures of McCabe moments after the attack. He doesn't remember this at all.

"I was knocked out," he said. "Every bone in my face broke except for my jaw."

He had full facial reconstruction, titanium in his cheeks and wires in his mouth from ear to ear. And three years later - the problems remain.

"My whole face is numb, right in through here I have no feeling," McCabe said. "In fact when my dentist does work in my mouth I don't need novocain."

The lawsuit that McCabe filed against the city says the city was negligent when it allowed the football game to happen under the lights on a city field when there was no permit, no insurance and no security.

Click here to read the lawsuit

"This case will have wide reaching effects if I have anything to say about it," said Bob Brenna, McCabe's attorney. "We're not allowed an eye for an eye. We're not allowed dueling. All we can do is try to get compensation financially."

The city of Rochester does not comment on active lawsuits.

Leon Woods, convicted in the attack, is three years into a 10 year prison sentence.

McCabe believes that if the football team that Woods played for was required to get a permit, show insurance and hire security, he never would have been attacked. He never would have had to sleep up-right in a chair for eight weeks.

Or lose his sense of taste.

Or smell.

He never would have missed the football field that he loves.

"Just to go on the football field it means so much to me," McCabe said. "I don't know how much longer I can do it. This year might be the end for me. But I just had to prove to myself that I could get back to doing it."

When we talked with Peter McCabe he was still suffering from a severe headache from refereing the football game Sunday night.

When he was sentenced three years ago -- Leon Woods told Peter in court, "I brutally attacked you for no reason. I know I can't change that, but I'm sorry."