Longtime NFL official Wayne Mackie died Thursday night at the age of 62, the NFL announced. Mackie was a head linesman in the league from 2007 through 2016, and he became the NFL’s vice president of officiating evaluation and development in 2017. Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement about Mackie’s passing:
“It is with a heavy heart that I share the tragic passing of a treasured member of our NFL family. Wayne Mackie unexpectedly passed last night while in Florida. He leaves behind his wife, Tonya, and three daughters.
“In the last two decades, Wayne solidified his standing as a highly-respected on-field game official, serving as a head linesman at Super Bowl 50 and officiating in two conference championship games during his NFL career. Wayne entered the NFL in 2007, and spent 10 years establishing himself as one of the League’s top officials at his position. Though his on-field officiating career ended in 2016, Wayne joined the NFL’s officiating department in 2017 and has continued to impart his expertise on the next generation of NFL officials through training and development.
“Wayne was passionate about the NFL and spent each day making a positive impact on all of us individually and contributing to our collective success. Those who had the pleasure of knowing Wayne will forever remember his kindness, generosity and the genuine spirit he brought to all aspects of his life.”
In his role as vice president of officiating evaluation and development, Mackie was responsible for devising the rules exam that officials are required to take every week, and he scheduled the officials’ game assignments.
Being responsible for a group of people that are the most heavily criticized in sports is no easy job. But Mackie strived for perfection with his team and was pleased when excellence was achieved. Still, the challenges of being an NFL referee and communicating decisions isn’t easy.
“The difficult part of the job is to get everyone on the same page when we convey information to the staff on how plays should be officiated and to get the officials to understand the message being conveyed as opposed to whether or not a downgrade was given on a particular play,” Mackie said in 2019. “The key is consistency. The more consistent we are as evaluators with the messaging, the more consistent the game will be called on the field.”
Mackie grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and played high school football. He attended an NFL officiating clinic in the historically Black Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference at North Carolina A&T in 1995 and began his journey towards becoming an NFL official.
Mackie started officiating at the Pop Warner level, sandlot leagues and high school junior varsity. He eventually moved up to varsity games, then NCAA Division II and Division III games in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference.
He officiated in the MEAC from 1997-2000 and in the Atlantic 10 Conference from 2000-2001. Then he joined the Big East Conference from 2002-2006 and officiated in the Arena League from 2002-2006. He was in NFL Europe from 2003-2005, before entering the NFL in 2007.
Mackie officiated eight playoff games during his 10 seasons on the field, including two conference title games. He was the head linesman for Super Bowl 50, a Denver Broncos victory over the Carolina Panthers.