Football Zebras
20204 officiating observations from Super Bowl LV

4 officiating observations from Super Bowl LV

We made it. No canceled games (although we did have Tuesday and Wednesday Football this year!).

While Super Bowl LV was far from a classic, competitive game, fans of the zebras can stayed engaged until the final gun.

Here are my officiating thoughts, written even before the vaccum sucked up all the confetti.

1. Sarah Thomas belonged

Sarah Thomas had a very good game. She had excellent mechanics, showed good presence, showed good judgement and did herself proud. I had another down judge penciled in for this game, but Thomas was strong and deserved to be out there.

She’s only 47, so I feel that we’ll see her for many more years and this might not be her last Super Bowl.

2. Too picky in the secondary

I’ll leave the more pointed commentary to my colleague Cam, but I am sorry to say that there were too many marginal flags in the first half for defensive holding and defensive pass interference.

In the regular season, we were almost conditioned to see a flag fly for a defensive foul on a contested incomplete pass. The playoff crews seemed to let more go. But, in the Super Bowl, the flags came out again.

Nevertheless, even by regular season standards, there should have been more no-calls.

3. Proactive officiating

All the officials were active, but I specifically noticed umpire Fred Bryan and back judge Dino Paganelli working hard between downs to keep players separated and quelling potential trouble spots.

And, they weren’t afraid to flag those who stepped over the line whether it was early or late in the game.

4. Officials and captains had room at the coin toss!

For years I’ve railed at the absurdity of having so many media members, celebrities and hangers-on attending the coin toss.

Photographers crush in and the referee, honorary coin tosser and the captains barely have room to function.

Perhaps the only positive thing about covid-19 this football season is that a socially distanced coin toss actually gave referee Carl Cheffers and the captains room to do their jobs!

This was the most unique football season I’ve ever witnessed. May we never experience another like it.

There will be more news this off-season as officials retire, the NFL hires new officials, the competition committee changes rules, and we even have some spring college football!

We will be here all off-season reporting on the officiating news.

But now, the confetti is swept up and we look forward to the 102nd NFL season this coming September.

Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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5 thoughts on “4 officiating observations from Super Bowl LV

  1. I have a hunch that defensive holding will be a point of emphasis next year. Between what was allowed in the NFC Championship and what was called in the Super Bowl there is no consistency at all.

  2. People on here know that I am not a fan of Sarah Thomas and think the NFL has tried to shelter her with good LJ./SJ to cover for her and that she is being awarded assignments before she deserves it because of her gender. That being said, she did have a great game. I was okay that there was no IG called when Mahomes was scrambling late in the game. Did not see any flare ups along her sideline. Hopefully future assignments will be because she is deserving. Terry McAulay was another official that I thought was pushed faster than he deserved, but he ended up being one of the best at his position.

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