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2019 Conference Championships

4 officiating observations from Conference Championship Weekend

It was a quiet weekend on the officiating front, but always something to observe.



The crowds were excited and loud, but it was a pretty quiet weekend on the officiating front for Conference Championship weekend, thankfully. 

But there are always things to observe and learn from the officials. Here are a few things I saw.

Even though the game is decided, it isn’t over

John Hussey’s crew worked the NFC title game, and the outcome was basically decided at halftime. But, Hussey’s crew had another 30 minutes of football to officiate. When a team gets up big, they might start rubbing it in. When a team is down big, and facing the offseason, they might throw caution and good sportsmanship to the wind and try to get in a few free cracks.

Hussey’s crew, especially down judge Derick Bowers and field judge Tom Hill, worked hard to make sure the game stayed under control.

Tough guy award to Perry Paganelli

The back judge took a spill late in the AFC title game. I feared the worst when he was slow and a little wobbly in getting up, but he recovered just fine – and even had presence of mind to signal touchback!

I’m sure aspirin or Tylenol are his friends today.

Are we seeing the new wave of high-performing officials?

Bryan Neale is in his sixth year and he just finished working his second conference championship game. Same for Eugene Hall, who also worked the Super Bowl last year – his first year eligible. Jerod Phillips just worked the conference championship in his fourth year.

At a time when many officials could be retiring, it is good to see these younger officials step forward.

Eugene Hall (San Francisco 49ers)

No “holding at the snap”

Shortly after the AFC title game, a tweet went viral that the officials flagged holding right at the snap. The officials picked up an illegal formation flag. Corrente should have announced that but didn’t. Corrente then threw his flag for holding, but that flag did not appear in the camera frame.

This is a nothing-burger.

Now begins two weeks of Super Bowl hype – with a Pro Bowl interlude this weekend. We’ll be sure to keep you up to date on any officiating news. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as the intensity builds to Super Bowl LIV.

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?"