Bart Longson said his weekday job is to help business owners achieve their dreams, and now he’s fulfilled one of his own in becoming a National Football League head linesman.
Longson, 39, principal owner of business-financing provider Snap Advances, on Wednesday joined eight others in being promoted to full-time status as NFL officials. He plans to continue running his business, as well as professional football fields as of August.
“My already long days are just going to turn into longer days,” Longson said. “I feel very confident that I’ll be prepared.”
Longson was a high school free safety who went to Brigham Young University, graduating with a finance degree.
After college he began officiating, first at the youth level and then in high schools. Moving up to college games, he officiated in the Mountain West Conference for five years and the Big 12 Conference for one before working in the Pac-12 Conference the past four seasons.
“I’ve just always loved to be part of the game and this was the best opportunity for me to stay involved,” Longson said in a phone interview.
Longson, who will wear uniform No. 2, doesn’t get intimidated and has a strong on-field presence -- crucial among NFL officials, according to Dean Blandino, the league’s vice president of officiating. He’s also been “very successful in business,” Blandino said.
“We’re not just hiring game officials, we’re hiring people that are going to represent the NFL,” Blandino said on a conference call with reporters. “So what they do in their other professions, how they conduct themselves and the success that they’ve had, we certainly look at that.”
At least eight officials worked in the financial industry during the 2014 season, according to a league list. The NFL’s crew in black and white last season also had careers such as educator, firefighter, federal agent, attorney and pilot.
Joining Longson next season will be line judge Sarah Thomas, who on Wednesday became the first woman selected as an NFL official on a full-time basis.
Based in Salt Lake City with another office on New York’s Long Island, Snap Advances provides capital to small- and medium-sized businesses. In 2012, it had $21.9 million in revenue and 40 employees, according to Inc.com. Longson declined to share financial results other than to say the company has grown since the Inc.com data was published.
“I would call us a digital finance company that bases our underwriting decisions on proprietary algorithms,” Longson said.
He also said “there’s no crossover at all” between his entrepreneurial and football careers.
“They’re really two completely separate lives, though they’re certainly both a passion,” Longson said.
When the NFL and its referees reached an eight-year contract agreement in 2012, the league sent out a news release saying: “Apart from their benefit package, the game officials’ compensation will increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.”
As part of the NFL’s development program last year, Longson attended training camps and called a preseason game between the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers. He then worked his regular Pac-12 schedule. This July, he’ll participate in an NFL officiating clinic and continue his education during the league’s exhibition season.
“One preseason game is not going to get you adapted to that speed, so that’s going to be my challenge,” Longson said.