Men in Stripes (left to right): Rusty, Ronnie, Allen, Mark
Baynes makes Super Bowl trip
By Michael Butler
It was one of the most thrilling games in Super Bowl history, and Rusty Baynes got to see it from a vantage point like none other.
Rusty was the NFL's line of scrimmage alternate. The Super Bowl XLIX gig in Glendale, Ariz. might have been like being Tom Brady's backup last weekend, but Rusty has had his fair share of on the field roles in big NFL games over the past five years.
"You always want to be on the field. That game is so big. It's like the old saying, 'Give me the ball coach,'" he said. "There's celebrities everywhere. We went out to watch Katy Perry during the halftime. I was pretty close to Missy Elliott."
Rusty's wife Holly and son Will also made the trip. "Will missed three days of school. I told him if you go with me, you're coming back Monday night and going to school Tuesday morning. They enjoyed it. They saw a great show." Rusty and Holly grew up in Tallassee. They now reside in Birmingham.
Rusty officiated four preseason games in addition to 15 regular season games. He also got to brave the conditions at Green Bay's Lambeau Field for the the Cowboys/Packers divisional playoff game. "It was the coldest game I had all year. It was about 20 degrees. I remember getting off the plane. It was like six degrees when I landed. My face kind of froze off. Living down here, you're just not used to that cold."
As a line judge, the ball is in Rusty's hands quite often. Has he ever noticed the ball being underinflated?
"We handle it for a second. We grab it and throw it. We're not out there massaging it. I can honestly say I wouldn't be able to feel that."
Rusty is not alone in a family of football officials. Rusty's father and longtime Tallassee coach Ronnie worked his way up the ranks to become NFL Director of Officiating. He now serves as NFL Director of Recruiting.
Rusty's twin brother Mark is a college football official. Their younger brother Allen is in the NFL.
Ronnie officiated in Super Bowls XXIX and XXXIII. This was Rusty's first trip to the big show.
"He's the patriarch," Rusty said of his father. "We certainly listen to what he has to say. He's (officiated) for a long time and knows what to look for. We do talk about it all the time. It's what we do."