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NFL Line Judge Kevin Codey '97 Visits University

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6, 2016 - 3:18 PM Business , All News , Alumni

Lavoie, Codey, and Pappas on stage

Kevin Codey, who completed his rookie season in the NFL as a line judge this year, returned to campus on April 5 as the featured speaker at University's Center for International Sport Business (CISB) “For the Love of the Games” series. He is pictured in the middle with Alumni Association Vice President Ed Lavoie ’99 and Director of Alumni Relations Kathy Pappas G’98.

The event was sponsored by the Alumni Association.

Codey, a former Golden Bears basketball captain and baseball player, works full-time as a physical education teacher at the Herberg Middle School in his hometown of Pittsfield, MA, and part-time in the NFL. He was among nine rookies hired by the league last year in a group that included Sarah Thomas, the first woman assigned to an officiating crew. Codey was also a line judge in college, a job that involves the line of scrimmage calling false starts and/or offsides before the ball is snapped, among other responsibilities.

In a question-and-answer session moderated by Associate Professor of Sport Management Curt Hamakawa L’84, who directs the popular CISB program, Codey addressed an enthusiastic crowd of students, alumni, and youngsters who learned firsthand what it takes to be an official in the NFL. Former basketball teammate Eric Langan ’96 was among those in attendance.

Several grade-school students asked Codey questions about his experience and the pressure of making the right call in a fast-paced environment while under the microscope of players, coaches, spectators, and millions of fans watching on television.

Codey noted that it’s important to maintain your focus on every play, especially when you only have a split second to make a decision. “There are 32 cameras in the stadium scrutinizing every play,” he stated.

Even though it’s considered a part-time position, Codey and his colleagues spend a considerable amount of time each week preparing for games, usually leaving on a Saturday morning for a Sunday contest and returning to their respective homes afterwards. They are graded during the week and are always reviewing calls with the goal of calling a flawless game.

College of Business Dean Dr. Julie Siciliano ’81/G’84 asked Codey what impact Western New England had on his career. “Attending Western New England had a big impact,” he said. “I received a tremendous education and became friends with a lot of professors. I was also able to play two sports and my basketball coaches Brett Bishop, Bill Bates, and Paul Scoville taught me valuable life lessons about being a good teammate and working hard to succeed that I still use today.”

Working His Way Up the Ranks

According to a CBS report in 2014, statistically speaking, it’s harder to make the NFL as an official than as a player. Not surprisingly, the NFL rulebook is one of the most complicated in pro sports with several new rule interpretations added each year.

Codey certainly paid his dues. But he worked his way up the ranks quickly, following the footsteps of his late father, John, who was a highly regarded football official in Berkshire County. The younger Codey worked his first football game while still in high school. He did high school games from 1992-09 and Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division II and III contests for six seasons (1998-2004).

He also worked games in the Colonial Athletic Association from 2001 to 2005 before moving to Division I-FBS games in 2006. He did Big East Conference games from 2006 to 2011 and spent three seasons in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) from 2012 to 2014 before getting the call he was anxiously awaiting last April.

He joined a seven-member NFL officiating crew headed by veteran Walt Coleman, the league’s senior official, who completed his 28th season last fall. He has served as a referee since 1995.

Codey made his NFL debut at the Miami Dolphins-Washington Redskins game on September 13, 2015, and worked 15 games, with two featuring the New England Patriots (against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans).

Despite officials having full-time positions in the off-season, there is little time to relax, since there are several training sessions.

The dream of all NFL officials is to work the Super Bowl, which Codey’s field judge crewmate Boris Cheek did this past February.

The best call Codey makes, however, is giving his supportive wife Sharon all the credit for keeping things in control and watching their two sons Kaden (12) and Jason (8) while he is away.

Terrific End to CISB Series

This was the fifth and last speaker for the 2015-16 academic school year. Previous guests included Katey Stone (USA Women’s Hockey Coach), Chris Prescott ’01 (Chicago Bears Area Scout), Buster Olney (ESPN Baseball Analyst), and Dale Neuburger (FINA Vice President).

Established in 2007, the CISB is a forum for the study of business in sport with an international focus. In addition to the distinguished speaker program that brings prominent personalities from sport and business to the University community, the CISB program organizes a summer Seminar Abroad Program that has taken students to the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cups since 2008.