If they do their job perfectly, they’ll go unnoticed, and no one will mention their role on Monday morning. If they don’t, their names will trend worldwide on twitter, and their role, training, and ability will be questioned throughout the off season. Of course, we’re talking about the referees. The crew will be led by Clete Blakeman. He’ll be in charge of a crew of seven officials, with a combined 62 playoff game assignments, and while they’ll be under the bright lights of Levi’s Stadium today, they have regular full time jobs they must go back to as well. Which leads to the question, what the hell do these guys do in the off season? Here’s a breakdown
Lead Referee Clete Blakeman – Blakeman got a little viral fame a few weeks ago, when he didn’t flip a coin, not that he didn’t try. The game between the Packers and the Cardinals, that found itself headed into overtime because of some Aaron Rodgers heroics, featured a coin re-flip, because the first one didn’t actually flip. When Blakeman is not worried about coins, he’s a partner in the law firm of Carlson & Burnett in Omaha. He’s known throughout his community as a very respected personal injury lawyer.
Umpire Jeff Rice – Umpire is considered the most dangerous officiating position in the NFL, as you’re right in the mix of the play. Rice is likely used to navigating tough situations, as an attorney based out of Florida. He’s been nominated to the ‘Florida Super Lawyers’ – which one can only assume is a group of lawyers, considered super, that work in Florida.
Head Linesman Wayne Mackie – Mackie is a Brooklyn native, and is the director of operations in the Housing and Preservation Department, if you’re wondering what that means – he inspects homes and ensures they’re up to code. The interesting thing about Mackie is that he does both jobs at the same time. So, he’ll work a Sunday nighter, and be home in time, and ready to go to work on Monday morning. If he’s working a weekday game, he misses a day, and is back at it the next day. Pretty impressive, no word yet, on if he’s taken a vacation day for Monday.
Line Judge Rusty Baynes – Baynes graduated from the Auburn University at Montgomery with a degree in business, and when not working as a line judge in the NFL, is an official baseball coach/instructor with Baynes Baseball. Maybe, he’s the Deion Sanders of the group?
Field Judge Boris Cheek – Boris Cheek is a veteran official in both the NFL and the CFL, this is his second super bowl, the first being Super Bowl XLII, when the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots. He’s officiated for 20 years, and is a teacher in the offseason.
Side Judge Scott Edwards – Edwards is entering his 17th season as NFL official, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. When he’s not officiating a game, he’s working as an environmental engineer.
Back Judge Keith Ferguson – Ferguson is a graduate from San Jose State University, and is a sales professional when he’s not working behind the lines on any given Sunday. He’s one of a number of officials, (Baynes included) ,where officiating runs in the family, his dad was also a NFL official.