Another Super Bowl in the books. Before we turn the page to the offseason, here’s what jumped out to me regarding the officiating in the big game.
1. Vinovich got the game off on the right foot.
We’ve said for a long time that the coin toss is so important and it helps set the tone for the game right away. While rehearsed the day before, the lights burn bright and hot as everyone is ready to start the game. Referee Bill Vinovich got the game off to a smooth start.
2. Officials not afraid to make a call in overtime.
In a close game, and especially overtime, the officials want the teams to decide the game. But when one team gains an unfair advantage, they must throw the flag. The crew rose to the challenge.
3. Alternates everywhere!
Gone are the days of of two officials pacing the sideline waiting for an official to to get hurt. Alternate officials in the playoffs play an integral role in the game. They act as liaisons between the game officials and the coaches when there is a stoppage or a coach has a question or needs to make a penalty decision. If you watched closely in the Super Bowl, the alternate officials converged on plays out of bounds and even came onto the field to help the officials break up confrontations. The alternates can’t call plays or penalties, but they are a big help to the seven on-field officials during critical moments in the playoffs.
4. A new model of an umpire
Back in the 1970s, Lou Palazzi and Pat Harder were model umpires for amateur officials to emulate. In the 1980s it was Al Conway. In the 1990s it was Ron Botchan and Jim Quirk, Sr. The umpire today has to be the most agile official on the field as he or she has to trail the play and quickly arrive on the scene to spot the ball at the end of the play.
Terry Killens is quickly becoming a model umpire for the 2020s. He moves well, spots the ball quickly and when things get chippy, Killens arrives at the powder keg quickly and helps his fellow officials cool the tempers. While the NFL umpire is in a completely different position than high school and college umpires, many amateur officials can learn a lot by watching number 77
5. What a retirement game!
Tom Hill and Mark Perlman retire tied for second place in the all time NFL playoff assignment record book with 27-playoff games. Not everyone can retire with an instant classic. Not these two! Not only did they work an exciting game, but they distinguished themselves by making great calls.
Hill and Perlman leave the field at the top of their game. And in their final game, they left it all on the field.
Wasn’t Week 1 just a few weeks ago?
The season goes so fast, and like the end of an overtime game, the season ends quickly. But we will follow NFL officiating this off-season, roster and crew news and spring pro leagues.
Stay tuned for more officiating off-season news! Three months and three days until the NFL starts the 2024 officiating season with Memo 1.