While the Kansas City Chiefs celebrated their second Super Bowl victory in 4 years, the sports world was abuzz with a controversial holding call that effectively clinched the victory for the Chiefs.
On a third down play, needing eight yards to get a first down with 1:54 left on the clock, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes overthrew his receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. It was going to set up a Chiefs field goal and give the Philadelphia Eagles at least 1:30 to respond. However, a late flag was thrown, calling holding on Eagles cornerback James Bradberry, giving an automatic first down to the Chiefs. The Chiefs ran the clock down to eight seconds left before making a field goal going up 38-35 and giving the Eagles mere seconds to respond. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts underthrew his receivers on a hail mary pass and the Chiefs won.
Football fans across the world suddenly became officiating experts as what typically happens after every controversial call. Fans claimed the flag should never have been thrown for a couple of reasons.
The first reason is that there was no holding on the play at all. This is clearly false as the video shows Bradberry grabbing and pulling Smith Schuster’s jersey. Bradberry himself admitted he held Smith-Schuster’s jersey and that he hoped the officials would let it slide.
Referee of the game, Carl Cheffers, explained the call after the game.
“The defender (Bradberry) grabbed the jersey with his right hand and restricted him (Smith-Schuster) from releasing to the outside,” he said.
The second reason fans were upset is that they felt like it ruined the game and that you can’t make a call like that at that stage of the game. The fact is, officials get paid to officiate the game, not give the viewers the most entertaining game possible. It is disappointing that the game is effectively decided by a call on the field, but that is Bradberry’s fault for holding, not the officials for making the correct call. The game was not ruined either. It was an instant classic even with the call and this game will be remembered for years to come.
While the call set up the Chiefs for a shorter field goal, the game overall was arguably decided more by the Eagles failure to stop the Chiefs offense from scoring on every drive in the second half. Not only that, the Eagles failed to get a sack the entire game on Mahomes who was nowhere near completely healthy, nursing an ankle injury.
Blowing a double digit lead is almost always a recipe for disaster and the Eagles simply did not execute when they needed to. That is on them, not the officials. There are simply way more plays that influence the outcome of a game than the officials making calls.
“Focus on what you can control and everything else that you don’t control, you have to learn how to let go,” Taylor head football coach Aaron Mingo said.
Regardless of how fans view calls on the field, they have taken the human aspect of officials out of their worldview. Officials are expected to be perfect and if they make a slight mistake, they are ridiculed endlessly both in person and on social media. Former NCAA national coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, J.D. Collins says that officials make it a goal to be excellent while officiating games.
“Social media has turned that goal of being excellent into perfection,” Collins said.
Collins thinks the rise of sports gambling has also caused more of an uproar toward officials. Fans now have a much easier time throwing their own money on a game and giving themselves a reason to get passionate about the game they are watching.
The Echo editorial board believes that officials have one of the toughest jobs in sports and that they should not be criticized as much as they are currently. There are numerous fans around the country that think they could do better than the officials we watch on television every Saturday and Sunday. The response to that is simple, go become an official. The Indiana High School Athletic Association is always looking for new officials. There is a referee shortage in youth sports because of the abuse these brave men and women receive every game they officiate. If others do not start to recognize the effects they have on these officials, Collins fears that youth sports may cease to exist, due to the referee shortage.