From St. Joseph, Missouri
This is George Hayward’s 20th year working as an NFL official.
But it’s the first time he’s worn his NFL stripes and blown his pro whistle while working in his hometown of St. Joseph. On top of that, he was working on the campus of his alma mater, Missouri Western State University.
“When I came here for my freshman year in 1970, we had a double-wide trailer as the student center,” Hayward said Friday, taking part in a four-day stay with the three other officials at the Chiefs training camp.
Led by referee Carl Cheffers and including head linesman Heyward, umpire Undrey Wash and back judge Todd Prukop, the striped shirts met on Thursday night with the Chiefs players and coaches. They explained some of the rules changes and points of emphasis for this season with the officials.
They met on Friday with the media in camp and did the same thing.
For Hayward it was an easy road trip. He lives in St. Joe and like everyone else in this community he’s thrilled that the Chiefs have come for training camp.
“The town is just so excited about them being here and it’s great to turn on ESPN and the NFL Network and hear people talking about my hometown,” Hayward said. “There were a lot of people that worked very hard to make it happen and I’m sure that right now they are glad they did.
“It’s really given the city a shot in the arm.”
Hayward played football at Missouri Western and after his playing days ended, he moved into the world of officiating, joining the NFL ranks in 1991. He’s annually one of the highest ranked officials, as he’s worked at least one game in the playoffs every year he’s been employed. He’s worked several conference championship games and he was part of the crew that worked Super Bowl XLI in Florida between Chicago and Indianapolis in February 2007.
Last year, Hayward was part of Mike Carey’s crew. This season he will be working with referee Peter Morelli.
And, what a way to start a season – being able to work in his hometown with an NFL team.
“I never believed I would see this,” said Hayward. “It’s really a great, great thing.”