Longtime NFL referee Red Cashion, known for his enthusiastic "First down!" calls, died Sunday morning at age 87, a Texas newspaper reported.

Cashion's family confirmed his passing to the Bryan-College Station Eagle.

Popular with the fans and respected by coaches and players, Cashion officiated for 25 seasons in the NFL (1972-96) and was the referee in Super Bowl XX and Super Bowl XXX.

Cashion began his officiating career in 1952 while still a student at Texas A&M. He worked in the high school and college ranks for 20 years before joining the NFL as a line judge. Four years later, in 1976, he was promoted to referee.

After his retirement in 1996, he went on to train NFL officials for another 15 years.

During an interview with the Chicago Tribune in 1996, Cashion was asked about the origins of his drawn-out and exuberant first-down calls.

"Somehow I think I wanted to say, 'Hey, I'm enthusiastic about this game and I want everybody else to be that way, too,'" Cashion told the newspaper.

Cashion was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

--Field Level Media

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