For most retiring Americans, their final day of work isn’t much to write home about; it just marks the end of one phase and the beginning of another. But for Scott Steenson, North Texas ’69, his last day played out like many American men can only dream of as they doze off in their man caves watching SportsCenter.
His final assignment: officiate a little game of pigskin between two teams from the western United States. You know it better as Super Bowl XLVIII, featuring the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.
“It was an awesome experience for me,” Steenson said, though he admitted it might have been a bit more fun to call a closer game.
In what was billed as an epic showdown between an elite offense and the best defense in the country, Seattle would coast to its first Lombardi Trophy, defeating Denver handily, 43-8. Steenson considered it a privilege to cap off a 23-year career with an appearance in one of the most popular sporting events on the planet.
And while he is grateful, Steenson cautioned that much like other jobs in the professional sporting world, the occupation of NFL referee also carries plenty of burden and stress. “The toughest part of officiating off the field is keeping current on the rules,” Steenson said. All officials are subjected to a written test each week during the season.
Steenson said it’s also imperative that all officials remain physically fit. “On the field, it’s maintaining the concentration necessary to officiate the game properly,” he added. “Calling pass interference isn’t exactly a walk in the park, either!”
“It’s exhausting and at the same time, the most exhilarating three-plus hours you will ever experience,” he said.
Where did Steenson lay the foundation for his success? Behind the red door, in the company of a group of men who continue to stand by his side today. “The tenets of Sigma Phi Epsilon—Virtue, Diligence and Brotherly Love—have guided me in my professional career,” Steenson said. “It’s amazing, but those principles are the glue that holds the “fraternity” of NFL officials together. You see it on display every time we meet as a group and every time a crew takes the field.
“Sportsmanship and integrity are paramount in officiating,” Steenson explained. “We are the stewards of the game, and it is our responsibility to maintain those values. Those tenets go hand in hand with Virtue, Diligence and Brotherly Love.”
Steenson remains in regular contact with his Texas Beta brothers, calling them an inspiration for his everyday life.
Reflecting on his college days, Steenson can’t hold back a smile when he thinks about the memories he made with his brothers, many of which helped shape the professional he became.
“We took pride in how we dressed to go to class, how we took care of the house and how we presented ourselves to the university,” Steenson recalled. “We tried to live by the principles of our Fraternity,” Steenson said.
Steenson called SigEp “ground zero” for everything good fraternity life can offer. “It is still the map for success in any endeavor in your life,” he said.