Ref-Ball? *Right-Call*


Charles Rabus

Just before our winter break, Andrew Hirschbein posted his article “Ref-Ball,” where he disputed a controversial call that occurred within the last two minutes of Super Bowl 57. The call was defensive holding on Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry. A five-yard penalty and an automatic first down. Setting up the Chiefs with a first and ten, on the ten-yard line, with less than two minutes to play. Solidifying the Chiefs’ comeback by setting them up to drain the clock and kick the game-winning field goal.

So was it the right call?

According to the Official 2022-23 NFL rulebook—rule 12, section 1, article 6–, defensive holding is defined as when “a defensive player tackles or holds any opponent other than a runner…” 

In the image, you can clearly see that James Bradberry held Juju Smith-Schuster’s jersey. This is the outright definition of a holding call.

Still not enough?

In the words of James Bradberry himself, “It was a holding. I tugged his jersey. I was hoping they would let it slide.”

Mike Pereira, former NFL referee and Lead Rules Analyst for Fox Sports since 2010, said, “I saw the grab by the back of the jersey and you know it’s a, in what they are taught, it is a clear hold.”

While the penalties timing is nothing short of infuriating, officiating does not stop because it is a close game; the rules still apply. Instead of blaming the refs for doing their job, going after the rule would be more applicable. If the rule had specified that the hold restricts the player’s movement, then the flag would not have been thrown, the Eagles would’ve had over a minute left on the clock, and I wouldn’t be writing this article right now.

The receiver went to the inside and he was attempting to release to the outside. The defender grabbed the jersey with his right hand and restricted him from releasing to the outside. So, therefore, we called defensive holding.

— Carl Cheffers

So, who are you going to trust? Andrew Hirschbein, a sophomore in High School, and Greg Olsen, a former NFL tight end who states his opinion in the moment before having a proper analysis of the play. Or, James Bradberry, current NFL cornerback and player whose foul is in question. Carl Cheffer, the NFL Referee who made the call, has been a Professional Referee since 2000, and continues to stand by his call after further review. Mike Pereira, NFL rules analyst for fox, who has spent the past three decades studying the Official NFL rulebook. And myself, Charles Rabus, a senior in High School going to college for Sports Management.



Do you think the Super Bowl holding call was warranted?


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