The annual post-Super Bowl commiserating over uncalled penalties on the NFL’s biggest stage is a sign that the seasons are changing. In the days after the Super Bowl, that sweet Internet copium is a sign that the NBA’s All-Star Weekend must be right around the corner. Finally, we’ll have a major event where officials just hold their whistles and everyone accepts the final score without a round of bellyaching.

You expect this sort of thing from the San Francisco 49ers. Not only were they losers, but before the Super Bowl, owner Jed York called attention to the officials missing Nick Bosa being held on a 3rd-and-5 in the Super Bowl four years ago.

During the Super Bowl preamble, Bosa emphasized how much the Chiefs’ offensive tackles hold, but that’s common knowledge. They led the league in holding. Bosa complaining is understandable. If this were the old XFL, Nick Bosa would be written across the back of his jersey. As a pass rusher on the losing side of a Super Bowl, he’s also riding an emotional high. Complaining about Kansas City Chiefs holding calls is chicken soup to the souls of grief stricken Niners fans. The first time an isolated clip goes viral, digital militias allow it to become their entire personality.

If you listen to big uglies expert and retired NFL offensive tackle Geoff Schwartz’s regular breakdowns, the average fan knows less about the finer details over what constitutes a hold than Kyle Juszczyk knows about playoff overtime rules. Maybe he’s a hack who just played more than a decade in the NFL, but I’ll take him at his word. Besides, Super Bowls tend to be lightly officiated on the offensive line, but San Francisco got away with plenty of calls of their own.

There’s no fix in. A defensive holding call on Trent McDuffie nearly saved the Niners and they couldn’t take advantage of the blessing. Chris Jones fought through a hold while pressuring Brock Purdy on a drive that ended in a touchdown for San Francisco. The officials missing a critical illegal man downfield call on Christian McCaffrey’s catch-and-run score in the first half was much more egregious than some hold on first or second down in enemy territory, but who’s counting?

Grainy screen recordings purports to show Bosa being held, but conveniently ignores him also lining up offsides.

Stop begging. Officials. To. Bail. Out. Your. Team. It’s the 2024 version of whimpering about Golden State’s illegal screens or editing together clips of ball handlers getting away with extra gather steps. Zebra watchers would find more fulfillment on the National Geo Channel because this here will always leave them disappointed.

The rest of the football-watching universe thought the second half of Super Bowl LVIII was so free-flowing, most casuals watching even forgot the officials were there. The only observers praying for pedantic flags either had a rooting interest, had money on the result or are neurotics who want flags flying at the sight of every single violation of the rulebook.

The average fan doesn’t want to ruin this gladiator sport by seeking additional input from refs. Why not demand more replay reviews while we’re at it? This segment of the Football Karen population is analogous to flagging down 5-O to report a jaywalker downtown, or who’d attempt citizen’s arrests.

Be careful what you ask for, though. Once a Super Bowl becomes a flag parade, the rest of us will be stuck with an unwatchable viewing experience. The median NFL official is going to miss calls about as often as your average starting quarterback doesn’t notice an open receiver while going through their progressions. To err is human.

Anyone who wants a sport officiated to the bone by A.I., will just lead us all to suffering through a stream of offsetting flags bogging down every possession until the NFL’s IT Department adjusts their A.I. officials’ penalty discretion rating and then we’ll be right back where we began. This may sound like science-fiction dystopia, but that day is coming. Perfection is futile and the future of officiating is just as obnoxious as the past. Have some steak with that whine and ingest the Super Bowl in its purest form while we can.

Find DJ Dunson on X…or don’t: @cerebralsportex



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