I was thumbing through the most recent alumni magazine and found a interesting article about Jeff Triplette ('73), a member of the board of visitors who is also an NFL referee. Below is an excerpt. You can read the entire article here.
When Jeff Triplette has something to say he simply turns on his microphone. Millions of people will stop to listen with rapt attention. Some will hold their breath while others will bow their heads and mouth a silent wish. Anything to relieve the tension.
Triplette and 16 others like him don’t necessarily crave the Sunday spotlight, but it is thrust upon them. They are the “white hats,” the referees of the National Football League. Triplette, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Wake Forest University, is principal and owner of Triplette Advisors LLC. He spoke during a gathering for the Wake Forest Schools of Business Board of Visitors at BB&T Ballpark.
Triplette has been an official in the NFL since 1996, a referee and leader of a six-man crew since 1999. He compared running an NFL game to running a business. “Successful business people focus and concentrate, and they have a big passion for what they do,” said Triplette, who rose through the officiating ranks starting, in part, with Pop Warner leagues and intramural games at Wake Forest. He progressed through the ranks, officiating high school and college football before someone saw in Triplette the potential to work in the NFL. “You get recruited just like a college player.”
The NFL is a multimillion dollar enterprise that transcends sports. Through the course of a season the NFL goes on display as many as four nights a week, each time neatly wrapped and presented as a glossy spectacle by any one of five TV networks using anywhere from nine to 21 cameras. “I am in the entertainment business,” Triplette said. “I am absolutely sure about that.” Triplette meets with TV production crews before each game to go over commercial breaks and official time-outs, typically respites of two-minutes that must account for the requisite whistles and signals to stop and to commence play. By all means, maintain the momentum. “It is a production. If we are dragging this out, fans get disinterested. We like our fans to be interested.
“The other part of my job is to officiate the game.” There is that, of course.
“Every move that you make, every call that you make, you have anywhere from 30 [million] to 70 million people watching every one of those plays. On Monday, a group of individuals will spend from eight to 12 hours going through every one of those plays that you just did for that three hours and critique your performance, evaluating whether you did it right or wrong.”
Triplette knows that when he takes the field. No matter what he says when he turns on his microphone, not everyone will like it. Being right is all that matters. “It was a dream come true for me to get into the NFL. There aren’t that many folks who get that opportunity.”