Derby resident Steve Stelljes has been an N.F.L referee for 11 seasons. In this one, his 11th year, Stelljes earned the highest honor by being selected to be the head linesman in Super Bowl XLVII.
K.J.C.C.C. Supervisor of Officials Craig Helser knows Stelljes, and also knows the intense process referees go through in order to be picked to be on the field at the Super Bowl. "All Steve's calls that he makes all year are graded, correct or incorrect. And, he competes against other head linesmen. He's at the top of his game as a head linesman this year," said Helser.
Being at the top of your game doesn't mean it's any less of a pressure situation when you're on the field. As a head linesman, Stelljes takes the brunt of a coach's frustrations. Butler Community College head football coach Troy Morrell says Stelljes' position is by far the toughest for a referee to have. "Everybody talks about the white hat being in charge but it's those guys on the sidelines that really hear it from coaches. I definitely have a lot of respect for officials, I would never want to do that job," says Morrell.
"They train, they work, they live it, eat it breathe it," added Morrell. He knows that being a ref is much like being a coach in that there really is no down time. Helser agrees, saying "Football is now non-stop, 12 months a year, and he (Stelljes) works at it all the time."
The work that Stelljes does is much like one of the players or coaches. He will sit down and watch game film of each team he will be officiating in a game. He wants to get to know their tendencies so he can get a better idea of the team. But Coach Morrell adds that those same coaches and players will watch film of the referees too. "They'll coach the players up on what they can get away with and what they can't get away with."