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It’s Official: CB West Honors Green ’69

Written by: on Friday, December 25th, 2015. Follow Don Leypoldt on Twitter.

 

When Scott Green tore up his knee during his junior year at Delaware, the CB West grad thought his NFL dreams were done.

Instead, Green’s pro football road was just beginning. The long time NFL official headed CB West’s October 17th Hall of Fame induction class.

“I knew I probably wouldn’t be playing my senior year at that point. I was pretty down and out and (fellow CB West Hall of Famer) Walt Smerconish- he was a prominent high school and college referee before he started announcing CB West games- was a friend of the family,” recalled Green, whose father taught at West.. “Smerconish said ‘Did you ever think about getting into officiating?’ I thought I might get into coaching.

“It was kind of tough,” Green admitted, “because my fellow teammates at Delaware were winning a small college national championship and I was (working) Pop Warner and Men’s Touch League games because that is where you start.”

Much as players rise through the ranks of Pop Warner, then high school and then college, so did Green. In 1991, he joined the NFL as a field judge. For the next 23 seasons, as a back judge and referee, Green worked as an official in the NFL.

“I obviously saw changes from when I first got in until the last few years,” Green stated. “Officials have some input into (rule changes). We can make recommendations. Once those rule changes come in, and player safety rules are becoming more and more, you look at a lot of video that says ‘Last year, this wasn’t a foul. This year, it is a foul.’

“The officiating department will start sending tape out in May and then we will go to a clinic in July so during that whole period, you’re looking and watching video,” Green continued. “Obviously, there is the rules change as to what is written on paper but the best way to create consistency is what you see in video. We look at a lot of film, just like the teams look at a lot of film.”

On February 3, 2002, Green’s excellence was rewarded with one of football’s highest honors. He served as the back judge for Super Bowl XXXVI.

“I used to tell the players: ‘We’re trying to get to the same place you are.’ I got graded every week and I get evaluated in relationship to the guys who work in my position,” said Green. “I’m in somewhat of a competitive situation with the other referees and back judges when I worked those.

“The first Super Bowl I worked was in New Orleans in 2002 and that was right after 9/11. They had all of the entertainment folks, teams and officials in the stadium early because they had so many security checks,” Green continued. “I’m walking around on the field and there are celebrities there: U2 and Terry Bradshaw from the booth. Everyone was there so early that they were just sort of wandering around on the field. That was a little different than a normal Sunday.”

Two years later, Green again was asked to serve as the back judge in the Super Bowl. The back judge focuses on the tight end, decides if catches are legal and keeps track of the play clocks, among others duties.

“I worked two games that ended exactly the same- I was standing under the goal post when the game winning field goals went through,” Green pointed out. “(Patriots kicker) Adam Vinatieri won that one in New Orleans and against Carolina, in 2004.

“And like the teams, sometimes the Conference Championship games are the toughest games to work because everybody knows that if they get through that game, they’re going to the Big Game,” Green continued. “There is a little bit of relief when you get there and satisfaction of being there. It is different. I used to kiddingly say that if I could get through the pre-game coin toss, the rest should be basically football. And it turns into football once you kick it off. It is then just like any other game. But all of the fanfare beforehand and stuff with the flyovers and the famous people…”

Green culminated his exceptional NFL career by working as the referee and crew chief in Super Bowl XLIV. The game put the exclamation point on Drew Brees’ Hall of Fame career as his Saints beat the Colts 31-17 to win their first Lombardi Trophy.

“We got into the locker room. And I said ‘Just remember guys, we had a great game because no one will ever remember who officiated this game.’ If you are sort of invisible,” Green feels, “you probably had a pretty good day.”

1967 was the year of the first Super Bowl- and the year that junior linebacker Green led CB West to a league title. “My best memory is that we were the Bux Mont Champs in 1967 and went undefeated that year,” he remembered. “There isn’t one special moment, but that was a great season.”

But a 21 year old Green, officiating sandlot games on an injured knee, was as far removed from a Super Bowl as you can get. Still, he worked his way up. “You start at that level and go to junior high, JV, high school. I think the NFL saw me work when I was with the MEAC conference and I’m sure they were there looking at officials,” Green said.

He applied for a position in the NFL and did not hear a word for years. Green, now officiating for over a dozen seasons, had moved to the ACC when the NFL suddenly asked him to come to New York for finalist interviews.

“During the interview, they said something like: ‘We like the way you move.’ I asked, ‘So you’ve seen me work?’ The guy looked down on his sheet and pulled up the page and said ‘We’ve seen you work 15 times in the last three years.’ I never knew they were there,” Green realized. “So they scout too.

“I got in when they were just starting the World League of American Football. That was a good program- not just for developing officials, but for trainers and assistant coaches. You really got exposed to the NFL approach. I worked that spring and then was put on a crew and started working. 1991,” Green concluded, “was my first year.”

Being a heartbeat away from NFL action is every football fan’s dream: until you realize that an official can be 100% right and still infuriate 80,000 people. “By the time you get to the NFL, everybody has worked a number of years,” Green said. “I can remember my first year working men’s Touch League games and it got pretty heated. It’s just part of the job. You try and stayed focused. You try and work with the other guys on your crew and stay on top of the game. Nobody feels worse than an official when there is a mistake that is made, especially when it could cost a team the game. But by the same token, players make mistakes and coaches make mistakes. It’s played by human beings,” reminded Green. “Mistakes are going to happen.”

Today, Green lives outside of D.C. His company provides consulting and assistance to public safety agencies. Green earned his Masters in Criminal Justice from Arizona State in 1978.

Green retired after the 2013 NFL season. “People asked why I was retiring. I said that after 23 years, it was a good run. But also, when I was in high school, this little kid used to run around on the field while we were practicing. That little kid is now the head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” Green grinned. “So I think it’s time for me to go!” That “little kid” was one Mike Pettine, Jr- the son of Green’s legendary high school coach.

Although his position enabled him to have some incredible experiences, officials seldom receive public praise. This October, CB West appropriately feted Green and his extraordinary, nearly quarter of a century long, NFL career.

Don Leypoldt’s book Keystones and Wishbones: Faith, Values and Football in the Delaware Valley is now available on Amazon! The book features interviews with over a dozen NFL veterans, all with Delaware Valley ties. Click here to order:

 

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