NFL’s referees spiral out of control


Photo used with permission from Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Chiefs JuJu Smith-Schuster draws a holding call against Eagles Defenseman James Bradberry. This gave the Chiefs a first down and a chance to score the game-winning touchdown. Eagles Cornerback James Bradberry said, “It was holding.”

During the Chiefs-Bengals AFC championship on Jan, 29, football fans raised questions about the NFL referees being too involved. After a few calls that were no help to Cincinnati, fans began to question the refing during the final minutes of the fourth quarter. There were questionable calls that were in favor of the Chiefs and helped them set up a game-winning field goal. 

In the Chief’s final drive, Patrick Mahomes ran the ball and drew an unnecessary roughness call from number 58 on the Bengals defense. This would give the Chiefs 15 yards closer for a field goal with eight seconds left to kick the game-winning score. “As a Chiefs fan, I do think that refs are too involved in the game but I agreed with the call when it was made,” freshman Charlie Rollins said. 

Rollins said that even if it is the right call it should not be made and some calls are better off not being called. In a game as close as the Bengals-Chiefs, when a call is as impactful as an unnecessary roughness call, bad calls can be detrimental. “Football is a violent sport, refs want to protect players, but sometimes they should disconnect,” Rollins said  

Even during the  Chiefs vs Eagles Super Bowl, a holding call against the Eagles was made during the game’s final minutes. This gave the Chiefs an additional five yards and a first down when Patrick Mahomes threw an incomplete pass at third and eight. “I don’t think the refs control the game too much, they are needed for tough decisions,” freshman and Eagles fan Cameron Peitak said.

In a game where it matters most, one of the biggest sports games in the world, the referees had a say in who won the game. There are fans who believe that the referees are even paid off to determine the outcome of the game. “My friends and I think that the refs were paid off during the AFC championship game,” freshman Trixie Verrija said. 

Pietak said that referees are not perfect, but they need to lay off certain calls during an intense game of football. When a referee makes a call as important as the one made during the final minutes of the Super Bowl, it can be detrimental. “Sometimes they mess up the important calls,” Pietak said. 

In regards to the Super Bowl, even if there was a holding call, fans still bring up the question if it should have been called. James Bradberry, who held JuJu Smith-Schuster, told reporters that he believes that the referees made the right call. “It was holding,” Bradberry said to reporters.  

Football fans did see a holding call but were not expecting to see a call actually made. Even with Bradberry himself knowing he made a mistake, he thought the referees would let it slide during a big game, considering it was a small hold. “I tugged his jersey, I was hoping they would let it slide,” Bradberry said.