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Brad Rogers, professor of business and former student at Lubbock Christian University, will begin his career with the National Football League this fall as a part of their officiating crew.
In 2015, he was given the opportunity to be a part of the training program for the National Football League with the possibility to earn the opportunity to referee at the NFL level.
“I have been through two different summers of training camps,” Rogers explained, “and have been fortunate enough to work two preseason games. It has been an incredible opportunity to be among some of the very best players, coaches, and officials in the country. I’ve been fortunate enough in the past to have some officials from the National Football League on my crews in college football, and it has been great to have them as resources to get advice from and learn from.”
Rogers, who began officiating in 1991, started off calling high school games.
“A gentleman by the name of Tim Hadley, a former teacher here, was a local official,” explained Rogers. “ He encouraged me and Durwood Manley ('96) (C-USA Replay Official and Onfield Official for the Southwestern Athletic Conference) to try it when we were students here, and we've been working at it ever since. This will be my 26th season as a referee, but I started out doing intramural games and local junior high and high school games.”
With the opportunity to officiate locally, Rogers has had the opportunity to work college football games alongside some of his best friends over the years.
“We [Durwood Manley and myself] were able to grow together throughout the process,” he said. “We started out in junior college level, division II, division III, the Double-A levels, and ultimately to the Division I level. It has been incredibly rewarding to make this journey with some of those guys.”
While some may see officiating as a Saturday-night only activity, Rogers explained that a lot more goes into the job than meets the eye.
“I usually spend anywhere between 25-30 hours per week preparing for a ball game, which means that outside of the classroom and my family life, I’m putting a lot of time with rule books and film study,” he said.
When asked what his greatest lesson that officiating has taught him, Rogers simply replied that the most important thing that he has learned from officiating is the virtue of humility.
“I have had the opportunity to work with some of the very best coaches in the country, and with that always come the challenge of remembering that they are just another human being—that they aren’t anything different from you and me. Having opportunities to mitigate a problem or to answer a question, you have to get to a human level with other coaches, and most are very good to work with.”
Brad is married to Lindsay Box Rogers 00' and they have two daughters. Without their support, Rogers would not have been able to have had this opportunity.
Rogers has been a part of the LCU community since his own days as a student, and has been a solid presence in the local community.
“I’ve been teaching in the School of Business for the past 10 years, and served in Admissions before that,” he explained. “I have also been working with Brad Crow with Lubbock Christian Schools basketball program for all but 5 years since 1999.”
When he is not on the field calling football games or studying film in the locker room, Rogers spends his days in the classroom at LCU, teaching business courses to undergraduate and graduate students.
“I get to make connections in the classroom with my time officiating. I get to be a part of some incredibly high-energy, spirited games, and when I’m working with players between the ages of 18 and 22, with young men who are just out of high school who are just learning what the real world is like, I get to deal with many situations where there is a lot of conflict. Players and coaches can get very upset, but there’s also a respect level that I have to have for them that I can’t take for granted.”
“Our students are preparing for the game of life, and there’s a lot of things that I can correlate from an opportunity that I got to learn from with a coach or player that I can translate into what I’m teaching about the workplace.”
Rogers says that while his time working as a referee could be a distraction for some, he has found it to be a useful tool both in the classroom and around campus.
“It has had a great positive impact. Obviously, it has generated some fun discussions with students, faculty and staff on campus, but it has also given me an opportunity to work in a different format with people.
“I deal with conflict resolution every Saturday in ball games,” he continued. “With what we have here at a growing, thriving university like LCU, continuing to try to improve in every area, this helps generate lots of important discussions. It has helped me to be a better listener, to better hear to what other people need, and to work to conform ideas and programs around those needs.”
Rogers is one of four new officials to make their debut this season and a product of the NFL Officiating Development Program, during which he participated as an eighth official, working with NFL crews to help call games. Additionally, he worked as the middle judge in the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, which the NFL officiating department staffs with development officials.
Reflecting on the challenges and pressure of calling a game on such a high level, Rogers explained, “With HD television, where you, sitting at home, can see each individual blade of grass on the field and see multiple angles at once, I get one chance, one shot to get the call
right. Often, viewers want officials to start out perfect, and then to get better from there. I’m never the most popular person walking in or walking out, but without officials, it’s just recess.”
NFLRA Executive Director Scott Green congratulated the new officials, saying, “It’s a long, tough road to become an NFL official. We congratulate these four outstanding individuals on their selection and welcome them to the union.”
When asked what this means to him, Rogers’ reply embodied the humility he had emphasized earlier.
“Often, people will say that their goal is to get to the highest level of whatever they’re doing; my goal has always been to do the job well enough that I get asked back the following year. It’s an honor to get to do this—not many people get to do it.”