Replacement officials continue to be in the spotlight as the NFL season approaches with no contract agreement yet reached by the officials' union. Though they are often criticized, they earned their spots this summer by going through intense training and a long elimination process.
The Amarillo Globe-News told the story
this week from the standpoint of Wayne Bernier, an Amarillo businessman who has been working preseason NFL exhibition games. An official for 19 years, he still comes back home to Texas each week to officiate local high school games.
Bernier began his weekend by officiating the Philadelphia Eagles' Thursday night victory against the New York Jets. He then took a red-eye to Texas to ref Friday night's high school game between Bushland
. The NFL replacement official concluded his weekend with a six-man game between Miami
Of his NFL experience the 42-year-old Bernier told the Globe-News, "You have seen it on TV and see this big field. But you walk in and it's still a 100-yard field. There are more people. That's all."
As a head linesman, he works with the chain gang and watches the line of scrimmage. He starts on the visitors' sideline and moves to the home side in the second half. The pay is $3,500 per game for head referees and $3,000 for the rest of the crew. They earn their money, because after every game they receive an email with comments and a grade.
Bernier received a major compliment at halftime on Aug. 24 from Seattle coach Pete Carroll, who said, "Hey, Wayne. Best job I've seen all year and last year. I saw no difference."
Could he make the NFL on his own some day?
He told the Globe-News, "For me, dreams do come true. Don't ever think a door is shut. And from one official to another, don't ever assume nobody is watching."