Connect with us

2017 Postseason

5 observations from Super Bowl LII



Embed from Getty Images

Another season is in the record books, capped off by one of the best Super Bowls ever. Here are five officiating takeaways from the big game.


Twice we saw very close touchdown catches and twice we saw field judge Tom Hill and back judge Perry Paganelli communicate before going up with the touchdown signal. While fans might be upset to have to wait a few extra seconds, the delayed signal is better than dueling signals. Gene Steratore and crew were communicating all night (the mark of a Steratore-lead and prepared crew) and it showed.

Instant replay tweaked for postseason

I sure thought instant replay would reverse the first Eagles’ touchdown after seeing similar touchdowns reversed this season. But, Al Riveron went with the call on the field each time. Fans were upset about the inconsistent replay rubric between the Super Bowl and the regular season. But, let’s face it — the replay results Sunday were what the fans wanted all year. I have nothing to prove it,  but it would not surprise me in the least if word came down directing replay reviews to lean towards the call on the field instead over-officiating the play. The NFL will consider the catch and replay guidelines this offseason. If those guidelines mirror what we saw on Sunday, it will go a long way to solving the problem.

Preventative officiating

All game long I noticed the officials quickly converging on players getting together. Those players were either talking, starting to woof at each other or thinking about getting physical. The officials stepped in between the players and calmly encouraged them disperse and not do anything silly. Kudos to the officials for helping keep the peace and kudos to the players for being disciplined.

Pregame conference was very important this year

The referee meets separately with each head coach starting 75-minutes before kickoff. This is the time for the coach to list captains, synchronize watches, try to work the referee for a call and to tell the referee if they plan on running any trick plays. The referee confirms with the coach that the trick play is legal. He then makes sure to inform the rest of the crew about the trick play. So, while the opposing team is surprised, the officials aren’t. With two wide receiver option passes to the quarterback on Sunday, the pregame conferences were important this year!

Make it be there

The officials made sure each call was there. We didn’t see any by-the-book flags. One of the mantras to good officiating is “make it be there.” Steratore and crew didn’t throw a flag unless it was big, the entire stadium could see it on replay and it had a material impact on the play. Some people pointed out that there was a lot of contact on the last heave to the end zone. There was contact by both teams on that last play. But, the last thing the officials wanted to do was inject themselves on the last play, unless something had to be called.

Active offseason

Football Zebras has stories to share this week before we formally put the 2017 season to bed. Check back and, as always, we’ll be here with all off-season rule changes and officiating news.


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?"