What a long way Chickasaw citizen Mike Weatherford has come since he started his career as a middle school football referee in Edmond, Oklahoma – he now has “game official at Super Bowl XLV” on his resume.
Mike is the first Native American to officiate in the NFL and counts it as a great source of pride to be able to represent the Chickasaw Nation at such an elite level. He called more than a dozen NFL Europe games in the late 1990s and became an NFL side judge in 2002. He was selected for the 2011 Super Bowl because of his performance during that year’s season – in all the games he called, he made only two mistakes.
Growing up in Edmond, Mike played a variety of sports from a young age. He graduated from Edmond High (now Edmond Memorial High School), and while working a summer job at Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma), he started calling teeball games.
It was a fateful encounter in his college years at Oklahoma State University that led him toward his current career path. At an officials’ meeting in Stillwater, Oklahoma, he saw the familiar face of Terry Porter, an umpire he’d known from playing high school baseball.
Terry quickly became his mentor – within a few years, Mike was calling football games throughout the state and continued climbing the ranks to officiate small college games and then major college games.
In 1995, with the formation of the Big 12 Conference, Mike took a big risk, switching from his tried and true position of back judge to a new role as field judge. After officiating the inaugural Big 12 Championship in 1996, he submitted an application to the NFL – and the rest, as they say, is history.