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Carmel businessman has ties to Super Bowl 50

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Posted at 11:10 AM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 11:10:05-05

CARMEL, Ind. -- There is no shortage of Broncos fans in Indiana come Sunday -- others will be cheering on the Panthers. But Tom Welter, a Carmel businessman, is going to be cheering for someone else in a uniform on the field.

Welter is the epitome of a football fan, good enough growing up to play at Nebraska. He was an offensive lineman at Nebraska. He played two seasons in the NFL, for the Cardinals.

He loves football almost as much as one of his best friends and former Nebraska teammate Clete Blakeman.

"We were two small-town kids who went to Nebraska at the same time and hit it off right away,” Welter said. “I had the opportunity to block for Clete over a few years, and maintained a relationship with Clete over the last 30 years."

As more than 100 million people worldwide hop in front of a TV to watch the game on Sunday, Tom will jump in front of his TV too, to watch his buddy Clete-- the referee of Super Bowl 50.

"He's done such a great job -- he's graded out, all on merit -- he got tagged to be the Super Bowl official."

In the NFL for eight years with six as a referee, Blakeman's done his best to stay out of the spotlight. He was recently in it when a coin flip didn’t flip.

The rare mistake aside, the NFL will only assign its top-tier officials to the big game. And this year -- Welter's buddy Clete gets his first shot.

"It's really an extension of his life,” Welter said. “He's been a football player since he was a child, he knew at some point this would end for him. He got his law degree at Nebraska and practices in Omaha and he wanted to stay in the game, so practices law and stays connected to football. I think he loves it and he's got a great future with it."

While Welter is rooting for Blakeman, Colts fans may be as well.

Blakeman was one of the referees last year who measured the air pressure in the Patriots' footballs during the AFC Championship Game, leading to DeflateGate.

He's far from beloved in New England, but has at least one big fan here.

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