LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Friday night means football here in Kentuckiana and love them or hate them the referees are a huge part of the game.
While we've seen high school coaches, like recently retired Mike Glaser of St. Xavier High School put in more than 30 years on the job, a longtime official has that beat with almost 50 years on the field.
We caught up with him as Bullitt Central took on Bullitt East.
For 47 years, referee Tommy Weber has been preparing for each and every game. He makes introductions, cuts up with co-workers, gives players his words of wisdom and yes, makes the tough calls.
At age 66, Weber may not be the oldest man in the game, but he is by far, the longest running active ref in the Kentucky Football Officials Association.
With a simple blow of his whistle, the retired insurance claims supervisor has the pleasure of being the most hated or most popular man on the field every week. Due to his experience and the respect that's come with it over the years, it's usually the latter.
Weber's love for the game is a family affair: He's the son of former University of Louisville Basketball Coach and Beloved Bellarmine University Athletic Director Eddie Weber. His dad and two older brothers were officials and his daughter Marcia has shared the basketball floor as they've both officiated the game.
It all began when his dad volunteered him for a JV basketball game when young Tommy was green at age 14. We asked him how it went? He laughed, " I have no idea, I was scared to death!"
Weber now averages 200 high school games a year. He showed us a signed ball that was a gift from fellow officials marking 300 college games that Weber worked.
Before Phil Simms became a major NFL star, his moves were monitored by Weber when Simms played for Morehead State University. Weber will never forget a Simms 60-yard touchdown pass. Weber recalled, "He just looked up at me laying on his back after getting hit and said, did the son of a gun drop the ball?" Weber chuckled, "I said no."
And after watching him work a game, former Western Kentucky Coach Jimmy Feix personally invited Weber to be part of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Weber admits even after all this time, he's good but not perfect. There's an inadvertent whistle blow here and there.
With a full calendar every month, Weber shows no signs of slowing down. He certainly doesn't do it for the money. Varsity games pay $72.50 and JV pays $37.50 and the gas and uniforms are on the referees.
"You're not going to get rich on it," he laughed.
Weber loves the game for two reasons: The fellowships with other officials, but mostly the interaction with the kids. "That's why I do it," he said.
Weber encourages young people to become referees. He says the need more good officials who really want to be in the game.
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