Each Sunday, football fans cheer on their NFL teams as they battle on the gridiron.
What many local fans may not realize is that two Oxford residents put in their own time on the NFL field of battle. They’re referees. Steve Freeman is the back judge on Jeff Triplette’s crew. Freeman has been selected to officiate in this year’s Super Bowl on Sunday.
Triplette began his career as an NFL referee in 1996 as a field judge. Two season’s later, in 1998, he swapped jobs and became a back judge. In 1999, Triplette became a referee in the wake of four-time Super Bowl referee Jerry Markbreit announcing his retirement.
Freeman began his career as an NFL referee in the 2001 season. But the competitive former athlete had already made his name in NFL stadiums as a player for 13 years.
During his playing career, Freeman spent 12 years with the Buffalo Bills and one season in Minnesota as a Viking. He excelled as a strong safety and had 135 consecutive starts with the Bills.
Freeman’s best campaign was 1980, when he picked off seven passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. (According to Fox Sports.)
Super Bowl XLVIII (or 48 for those not well versed in Roman numerals) is this Sunday, Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, N.J. home of the New York Giants and Jets. It’s the first Super Bowl ever held in a cold-weather, outdoor stadium and could be extra challenging for the officials — especially for a Mississippi boy.
The game matches the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. Freeman will be on the field as the selected back judge for the NFL official Super Bowl crew.
Due to an NFL rule, no referee can do an interview with media through the season or post season. So hottytoddy.com was not able to talk directly to Freeman or Triplette.
For those of you who read HottyToddy.com religiously, Jeff Triplette is the husband of our “On Cooking Southern” writer Laurie Triplette.
Adam Brown is sports editor of HottyToddy.com
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