FOR REFEREE MELVIN LINDSEY, GAME REMAINS THE SAME AFTER 54 YEARS OF HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Forgive Melvin Lindsey for failing to remember how many football games he has officiated during a career that has spanned six decades.
That’s what happens when the answer approaches 1,000. For Lindsey, 81, football season represents a new beginning. So when the ball is kicked off in late August, the man wearing the back‑and‑white‑striped shirt and white cap in the center of the field has a job to do.
This will be Lindsey’s 54th season beneath the proverbial Friday night lights. The players and coaches come and go but the game remains the same, he said. He recently took some time to speak to the American‑Statesman about a lifetime spent keeping up with young football players and their coaches.
Tell me something about the first high school football game you officiated?
In the fall of 1967, I started working junior high and B‑team high school games. I loved it. To my surprise, I got a call from our executive secretary that I was to work a varsity game. On Nov. 2, I called Hutto‑Liberty HIll. Hutto won 21‑6 and I was paid $17.50. I was so green and inexperienced I don’t know how I made it through two more games that year.
If someone had told you back in ’67 that you’d officiate more than 50 years, what would you have said?
I never thought I would last over 50 years. But now I have worked about 670 varsity games, three state championships, a high school All‑Star game and more subvarsity games than I can count.
Why did you become a football official?
I played high school football in Dripping Springs and helped with officiating subvarsity games. So, I had a taste of it and wanted to try it. I loved the game and the players and tolerated the coaches. What drove me was a speech I heard from Jim Tunney, one of the top referees in the NFL at the time. He was speaking at the (Southwest Football Officials Association) in Austin.