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6 officiating observations of Super Bowl LIV

Here are six things officiating-related things we noticed from the Super Bowl LIV crew.



The centennial NFL season is in the books. Wasn’t the Hall of Fame game like a month ago? As we bring the curtain down on Super Bowl LIV, here are six officiating observations.

1. Bill Vinovich ran a good coin toss

What is it this year with captains and coin tosses? San Francisco won the toss and deferred. The choice fell to the Chiefs whether or receive or defend a goal. The Chiefs just about went over the cliff and defended a goal. But, Vinovich firmly steered the Chiefs back on the right track.

If you look closely at the footage above, you can see Vinovich reach for his mic switch. He was about to turn it off spare the Chiefs, the NFL and himself any embarrassment or controversy. 

Coaches will need to take a few extra minutes next training camp to teach their captains coin toss rules.

And a classy moment as Vinovich showed respect to the World War II veteran when he delivered the coin for the toss.

2. Good work by the deep wings to keep everyone apart

I observed both Boris Cheek and Michael Banks working to keep opponents apart along the sideline. There was lots of yapping as players went out of bounds, but both deep wings kept players apart and quelled any potential taunting fouls or physical altercations.

3. Vinovich a good team mate

Late in the third quarter, Jimmy Garoppolo was shoved out of bounds in front of his bench. The contact started inbounds and wasn’t unduly rough. 

But Kyle Shanahan went off like a skyrocket. He screamed at line judge Carl Johnson for a personal foul call on the Chiefs. It wasn’t even close to a foul.

Bill Vinovich quickly got to the sideline to keep order, and he also got between Shanahan and Johnson and got the coach under control. He also served as a buffer and took the heat off of Johnson. 

That’s what a good crew chief does.

4. Delay of game? 

Delay of game is not reviewable and a total judgement call by the back judge. On the fourth down play by the 49ers, a delay of game would have actually benefitted the 49ers. Can you imagine the outrage from the Chiefs if the 49ers converted that play?

The NFL does not want buzzers, replays and tenths of a second determining delay of game. It is an inexact science and that’s how the NFL wants it.

5. Calls in the secondary correct or evened out

49ers called for pass interference (Kansas City Chiefs)

Greg Steed, Michael Banks and Boris Cheek all did well in the secondary. The Chiefs got away with one pass interference, but the 49ers scored a few plays later, so it evened out.

In the Super Bowl, the NFL needs secondary officials who aren’t afraid to make the tough calls. The deep judges were fearless tonight and deserve praise.

6. Always be ready

When Pat Mahomes threw his second interception with the Chiefs trailing, I thought to myself, “This could be the beginning of the end.” But, both teams kept playing and playing hard.

Bill Vinovich’s crew could have thought what I thought and relaxed. But, they kept up the intensity all the way through the confetti shower. They had tough calls to make all the way to the final gun and the crew rose to the occasion.

The end of the season comes so abruptly. Yes, this year there is XFL football, but … it won’t be the same. But, another hazy, hot and humid summer will come and go, it’ll be September, and the second century of NFL football will kick off before we know it.

Congratulations to Bill Vinovich’s Super Bowl LIV crew. Football Zebras will be here all off-season to cover rule changes, new hires, official retirements and any other 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?"