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Profile of a Superbowl referee

Photo by Libby Helverson | Contributing Writer

Scott Helverson, in his 19th season as a back judge in the NFL, officiated at this year’s Super Bowl between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

Helverson is an Iowa native and went to East High School. Afterwards he was a walk-on for Iowa’s football program, but quickly became a starting player. He eventually earned a scholarship and became his team’s MVP. 

He caught 76 passes for 996 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in his collegiate career and was a member of two Rose Bowl teams. 

After graduating from Iowa, Helverson didn’t anticipate becoming a referee. 

“I had no idea I was going to get in officiating,” Helverson said. “I started officiating by working ‘little-league stuff’ in the Des Moines, Iowa, area.”

He then began working his way through Division III football, the Big Ten, the Arena Football League and NFL Europe before finally reaching the NFL.

Helverson has refereed two previous Super Bowls, the first of which was Super Bowl XLII between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Super Bowl XLII is memorable for the famous David Tyree helmet catch. He also was an official during Super Bowl XLV, the Green Bay Packers versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was part of the Pro Bowl officiating crew in 2014.  

“We just don’t show up to the game. There’s a lot of preparation work,” Scott said. “We do a lot of rule study, a lot of film review throughout the week.”

Helverson said he puts in 20 to 25 hours of football work before games, in addition to another job. 

After getting a first-hand look at her father’s weekly preparation, Haley Helverson said she admired “his commitment.”

Scott Helverson’s other daughter Gaby Helverson also talked about what it’s like to have a father work in the NFL.

“Not a lot of people can say that their dad is an NFL ref,” Gaby Helverson said. “I mean, it’s really cool.” 

She also said their family has their own signal, he tips his hat at them when they go to games as a special way for him to acknowledge his family.

  “I just love the game of football,” Scott Helverson said. “Officiating is such a challenge each and every game. It’s the closest and next best thing to playing.” 

  Although Super Bowl LVI was held in Inglewood, California, downtown Los Angeles was set up for the NFL experience, a fan event. The experience allowed fans to get player autographs, see the Vince Lombardi Trophy and all 55 past Super Bowl rings, play with interactive games, try out combine skills and shop in the NFL shop. 

  The NFL experience wasn’t the only exciting event happening before the game. Some lucky individuals got to kick off Super Bowl Sunday with the Chainsmokers who performed at an exclusive tailgate. 

The tailgate included food, custom cocktails, convenient seating, music, photo opportunities and memorabili. Both Haley and Gaby Helverson mentioned that this was the best tailgate they had ever been to. 

 “The Super Bowl experience was absolutely incredible,” said Zach Coppola, Haley Helverson’s fiance. “The whole weekend was a great time from the dinners and time spent with friends and family all the way up to the game itself.

Coppola noted that he thought the way L.A. prepared for the Super Bowl was “really cool.”

“Every street and every corner had the Super Bowl advertised,” Coppola said. “The pregame tailgate was also a really cool event. I was lucky enough to get in thanks to my fiancee and her family.” 

  Gaby Helverson said her favorite part of Super Bowl weekend was seeing her dad “do the job he loves.”

  Scott Helverson reiterated that sentiment, saying, “There is nothing more important than family,” and that his favorite part of being an NFL official is “looking up before the game and during timeouts, seeing my family.”


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