Summerfield, NC -- A Triad native and former NFL official reveals what happens behind the scenes on Super Bowl Sunday.
It started out as a game. Now, it's an event. It's the biggest game of the year. Big stars, big plays, big money. News 2's Liz Crawford sat down with a guy who's lived it three times.
Gerry Austin has three Super Bowl rings, as an official. He was a ref in the NFL for 26 years. He's played a role in the most important day for many great football stars.
"You see some of the guys come out whooping and hollering, read their eyes. How relaxed are their eyes?" said Gerry.
Mental preparation is key and it isn't just for the players. As a head referee, Gerry used to talk to his officiating crew like a coach talks to his team. Something like this:
"Now listen, we've been through all the hoopla, we've been through everything else, but when we get on the field, and we blow the whistle, all it is, sixty minutes of football."
Gerry's heard it all too. He's been on the receiving end of plenty of rants. Sometimes the players have talked trash to him!
"He may say hey, I'm going to burn this guy on this next one, just watch me, I'm going to go right by him and I'm getting me a touchdown!," Gerry told WFMY News 2.
Gerry thinks competition drives every person in the league more than anything else. For the most part, every single person loves what they do.
Gerry said, "You enjoy it. You enjoy being a part of it. You enjoy the participation and you really enjoy it when you're successful at what you do."
Here's three things you probably didn't know about Super Bowl Sunday:
1- They use about 136 footballs, changing it every play. Most of the balls will go to NFL charities.
2- The minute the clock runs out, the officials get off the field. No celebrating for them.
3- The referee always does the coin toss until Super Bowl Sunday. The league brings in a honorary guest to toss the coin.
To this day, Gerry still loves watching football and he has one favorite team.
"I love watching the ball games, but I'm not rooting for anybody. I'm rooting for those seven guys in the striped shirts."
While Gerry was an official, he was also an employee for Guilford County Schools, eventually becoming an associate superintendent.
Now, Gerry is a Rules Consultant for ESPN. He travels with the ESPN crew during football season but he still misses being down on the field making the calls.