NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

March 24, 2014

A 'Super' experience

North Andover resident still on a high after working NFL's biggest game

It’s been seven weeks since he last worked his part-time job, and Jim Mello is still up there, floating high on cloud nine.

The North Andover resident expects to be down with the rest of us soon, maybe in a month or two. But he’s not quite sure when.

“Other than getting married and the birth of my three daughters, this is best thing that ever happened to me,” said Mello. “You work at something for 34 years ... I dreamed that it would happen some day and it did. And it was better than I dreamed it would be. I’m still smiling about it.”

While Mello works as an operations manager at the Massachusetts Lottery in Braintree, where he’s been for 28 years. While he is thankful for his career there, it’s an experience with his “part-time” job, as an referee in the National Football League, that he will cherish the rest of his life.

Mello, 56, worked the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, as head linesman, his first Super Bowl after 10 years of climbing the ladder.

“It’s really been longer than that when you consider when I started working high school games in the Cape Ann League and Northeast Conference after I got out of college,” said Mello, a Malden native who played baseball at Northeastern University.

Mello worked football, basketball and baseball games. About eight years in he took the college football test and ended up working five years in Div. 2 and Div. 3. Then he was promoted to 1-AA, where he spent eight years doing Ivy League, Yankee Conference, Patriot League and Atlantic-10 football games.

Then it was three years in the Big East. It was during this period that he had “pro” aspirations as he began sprinkling in Arena Football games and NFL Europe during the spring.

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