Wayne Mackie ’82
The confetti’s long been cleaned up from Super Bowl 50, and Wayne Mackie ’82 has had a break from traveling six months of the year as an NFL official. Serving as the head linesman at Super Bowl 50 was “the pinnacle of success,” reflected Mackie, who is a tier one official based on his accuracy scores (they’re graded for every play of every game).
Having started at the sandlot level in 1992, Mackie has been promoted through the ranks, from varsity high school, to the college level, to being scouted for the NFL. With football season about to kick off, the Scene called him up to “talk Mack.”
Chain reaction: “A head linesman is responsible for the line-to-gain chains that determine the first downs for each team. My primary responsibility is the line of scrimmage, which involves calls such as false starts, defensive offside, encroachment, illegal motion, illegal shifts, pass interference, illegal contact… There’s a lot of stuff. But to sum it up, we’re responsible for all the fouls as they relate to the line of scrimmage.”
Calls it as he sees it: “We see [each play] at one hundred miles an hour, once, where everybody else gets to watch it in their homes from ten angles, in slow motion. That’s what makes our job challenging.”
As a Raider: At Colgate, Mackie played basketball and baseball. His football career ended in high school when torn ligaments forced him to have major reconstructive knee surgery.
Get down: “I was a WRCU deejay. I had my own show on Friday and Saturday nights. We had a ball. I was known as Funky Mack. I played funk, rap, and anything with a heavy beat.”
Making calls off the field: When he’s not enforcing NFL rules, Mackie keeps people (and buildings) in line as the director of operations for New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). An economics major, Mackie joined the city agency after spending 16 years in the banking industry. Now, as part of the Office of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services, he assesses the physical health of buildings throughout the city, ensures that they’re up to code, and develops strategies to improve conditions.
The big game: As Lady Gaga belted out the national anthem at Super Bowl 50, Mackie stood, hand over heart, reflecting on his journey to that point. “Having reached the height of my profession, I thought about all the people who helped me along the way and the road I traveled to get there,” he said. Then, as the Blue Angels flyover roared above, Mackie felt “little goose bumps.” But, once “all of the pomp and circumstance were over, when the ball’s kicked off, [the Super Bowl] is just another football game,” he said. “You settle into what you know how to do, without worrying about all of the hype. The crowd doesn’t exist when I officiate a game. The louder they get, the more quiet it gets in my head.”
The highlight: “My 82-year-old father was able to attend a Super Bowl in person,” he said. Mackie’s wife and three daughters also cheered him on from the stands.
Takes no flak: “The coaches and the players are excitable, but it’s part of the game. We have back and forth, but it’s mostly congenial. They may get excited for one particular play, but ninety-nine percent of the time they come back and say, ‘Hey, I didn’t mean to yell at you.’ And I say, ‘I know.’ As an official, you cannot take anything personal.”
— Aleta Mayne