Former Iowa Hawkeye Player Is 4th Super Bowl Official From Iowa
The first time he officiated a college football game he paid for his own uniform. February 13, he'll be on the biggest stage of all... officiating Super Bowl LVI (56). It will be the fifth straight decade that a native Iowan has officiated a Super Bowl.
Former Iowa Hawkeye Scott Helverson will be the Back Judge in this year's Super Bowl. He's one of four native Iowans to officiate pro football's biggest game. However, Helverson is the first to officiate more than one Super Bowl.
Helverson went to Des Moines East High School before playing for Hayden Fry as a walk-on. That's how he started his career, anyway. Helverson would end up earning a scholarship and becoming a favorite target of Chuck Long. During his collegiate career he grabbed a total of 76 passes, for a total of 996 yards. Helverson scored 11 touchdowns and was a member of two Iowa Rose Bowl teams (1982 and 1986).
One of the most-remembered plays of Helverson's career was a touchdown that wasn't. It was in one of the most memorable games in Iowa football history, the battle of #1 Iowa and #2 Michigan in 1985. In that game, an official ruled Helverson out of bounds in the back of the end zone on a pass from Chuck Long. You can see the play at the 1-minute 34 mark in the video below. You can clearly tell, it should've been a touchdown. Still, Iowa would go on to win the game on a Rob Houghtlin field goal.
The first time Helverson stepped on a football field as an official was in Ames, Iowa 1987. He bought his own uniform the day before the Cyclones spring game that year and told Hawkeye Nation about the instructions he received before the game: "Don’t throw your flag. Don’t blow your whistle. Just stand around and act like you know what you’re doing."
It was a long road, but Helverson became an NFL official in 2003. Now in his 19th season, he's one of the game's best officials. He'll be officiating his third Super Bowl. According to the Sporting News, "The NFL chooses its Super Bowl officials based on a grading system that evaluates their performance on a week-to-week basis."
Helverson was the Back Judge in Super Bowl XLII in 2008 when Eli Manning's New York Giants defeated Tom Brady's New England Patriots. One of the key moments of the game came late in the 4th quarter when Manning escaped the rush and hit wide receiver David Tyree for the miraculous "Helmut Catch". Helverson was the Back Judge who came in and called it a catch. It was anything but an easy call as you can see from the photos below and the video HERE.
In Super Bowl XLV in 2011, Helverson was again the Back Judge for the game that saw the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers.
*Helverson is pictured below in a 2018 game between the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams.
The entire officiating crew for Super Bowl LVI on February 13, 2022 in Los Angeles is below. It will feature the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals and the NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams. The game will be played on the Rams home field.
Three Iowa natives have each officiated one Super Bowl.
Cedar Rapids native Bill Quinby (#58 below officiating the 1990 NFC Championship Game between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers) was the Side Judge in Super Bowl XIX (January 20, 1985) when the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Miami Dolphins 38-16. He's the only person from Cedar Rapids to ever officiate the NFL's biggest game.
Waterloo native Larry Nemmers was an NFL official from 1985 to 2007 and was the Side Judge in Super Bowl XXV (January 27, 1991). The New York Giants beat the Buffalo Bills 20-19. It's still the only Super Bowl decided by a single point.
At the Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii in February of 2007, Nemmers (below) received the Art McNally Award. According to Football Zebras, it's awarded to the NFL official that exhibits “exemplary professionalism, leadership and commitment to sportsmanship on and off the field.”
Montgomery, Iowa native John Keck (#67 below) was an NFL official for 25 years, from 1972 to 1996. Keck was the Umpire in Super Bowl XXX (January 28, 1996). The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the game by a score of 27-17. Keck (below) passed away in 2015. He was 83.