The Chiefs and Eagles put on another exciting Super Bowl with the game coming down to the last seconds. As we reflect on the game and the season, here are five officiating thoughts I have about the game.
1. Shame on me.
Everyone was very excited about the defensive holding call on the Eagles giving the Chiefs a new set of downs and allowed them to bleed the clock down to almost nothing, before kicking the winning field goal.
During replays, John Jenkins’ flag looked iffy at best, and I said so. There are times where the definitive angle takes time to find, and we never saw it on TV. This call looked like it was going to be the focus of the post game, but James Bradberry admitted that he was guilty of the foul.
There are all sorts of angles on TV that made Jenkins’ call look marginal. But only one angle mattered. Jenkins angle. He used all of his mechanics training and judgement developed over his years of officiating and he stepped up and made the call needed.
When the player flagged admitted that the official was right, that’s a good call. Kudos to Jenkins!
2. Always smooth.
Carl Cheffers is not avuncular on the microphone. He does not make flashy signals. All he does is run a smooth game.
Every official is one of the best in their craft, so it can be easy to prepare the Super Bowl crew for the big game. But, Cheffers has the knack of making sure the crew is all on the same page, and if there is a burp during the game, he gets thing back on track quickly.
Cheffers is a great official and the veteran is at the top of his skills.
3. Congratulations, Jeff Bergman!
The 30-year veteran wrapped up his career in grand style, calling his third Super Bowl. George H. W. Bush was president when he called his first NFL game (he missed two years — one due to covid-19 and another to tend to his ill wife). It was 26 years between his first Super Bowl assignment and his final one — probably an unbeatable record. He has been a strong personality and a strong official all these years. It is always a great thing to retire at the top and in style. Bergman has every right to be proud of his accomplishments.
We also need to mention here that alternate back judge, Perry Paganelli, was at the Super Bowl and watched his brother, Dino, work on the field. Perry is retiring after 25 seasons and this alternate assignment was his last.
4. First-timers did a great job.
We have already spoken highly of John Jenkins calling his first Super Bowl. We also need to compliment down judge Jerod Phillips — the other official calling his first Super Bowl on the field. Phillips did a very good job keeping his sideline under control all night.
He had some extra hard spots as the Eagles performed several quarterback sneaks for a first down or a touchdown. Phillips (and Bergman) had to step up in crunch time and delivered an excellent game.
5. Is our next five-time (or six-time?!) Super Bowl official in the offing?
Eugene Hall continues an epic run that would be hard to match and impossible to beat. Before Hall, side judge Laird Hayes had his second Super Bowl in his 9th season. Hall is in his 9th season and is on his third trip. Under the assignment rules that exist, an official cannot work a Super Bowl prior to their 5th season, and cannot repeat in consecutive seasons. Thus, a future official with these rules in place could only work in the 5th, 7th, and 9th seasons as Hall has done. The only way to surpass the feat is to work the fourth game in Year 11, but it’s possible that Hall himself will be the one to do that.
Hall has a good 10, 15+ years left on the field (if he wants it and he stays healthy). He could become the next five-time Super Bowl official or be in a class all by himself if he gets a sixth assignment.
Season 103 is in the books!
The season is over. We thank you all for following us all season. We will continue to follow-up the Super Bowl and the season this week, and we will preview the off-season. Also watch this space for rule changes, new hires and maybe some historical throwbacks.
As of this writing, it is three months and two days until the NFL sends “Memo #1” to its officials starting the 2023 new year for the zebras!