When Greg Wilson heard something that spoke to his heart, he spoke to someone right away to see how he could help.
Wilson calls Denver home and has two occupations – he’s an official with the National Football League, and he also work 1-4 days a week at Honig’s Gear for Sports Officials, which is located near Federal Blvd. and 6th Ave. In his travels, he caught wind of the Protect The Game initiative that was rolled out in 2019 and immediately connected with PTG’s mission of training veterans of military service to become certified officials in youth sports.
Protect The Game has another training session set for prospective officials Oct. 25-27 at Triple Crown Sports. Triple Crown will also host a PTG Open House and Silent Auction from 5:30-8 p.m. Oct. 26, with current MLB umpire Chris Guccione as the featured speaker. After Wilson got everyone connected, Honig’s became the official uniform partner of Protect The Game and will be providing needed gear to officials as well as donating items to Saturday’s silent auction.
“I either read an article or saw something, but I heard about Protect the Game somehow, some way. I then asked my office to contact them and see if Honig’s and Protect The Game could work together,” said Wilson, who is in his 12th season with the NFL and has been a back judge for the balance of his time. “The mission or cause in getting veterans involved in youth sports and trying to build the number of officials in youth sports (is important) … along with the stand you took regarding behavior of parents, coaches, fans and players that is directed at officials. That was a very strong stand on violence against sports officials, and that caught my eye. It’s something I’m passionate about, that behavior toward officials has to change or else there won’t be sports officials. We’ll go on and do something else.
“Trying to get military veterans involved is hugely important. I consider all the men and women who have served to be my heroes – what they’ve gone through to protect American values and democracy, I’m just very appreciative.”
Wilson has substantial history working within youth athletics as he came up through the NFL system. It started in Torrance, CA.
“One job going through high school and college was to officiate youth sports. I did Pop Warner and high school football, youth and high school basketball, then kept progressing,” Wilson said. “My son played sports, so I always coached. I knew there was a line you didn’t cross with umpires and officials. I made a lot of friends in Pop Warner, and a lot of those guys are officiating college football.”
Wilson said he was a voice of defense for sports officials as he watched his son from the stands, and he’s also had the pleasure of watching his son discuss calls with officials who probably didn’t know this particular player had such an intense background with the world of referees.
“We’ve watched football training tapes and watching plays with me since he was a tiny kid. He’s well educated,” Wilson said with a laugh. “It’s fun watching him have conversations with refs and their calls.
“This cause is so important – in this day and age, the crazy times we live in, it’s even more important to support veterans and what they do for the country.”
For more information on Protect The Game and how you can support the endeavor, contact Jordan Cohen at (970) 672-0575 or firstname.lastname@example.org