Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Call of the Superbowl

In a past article (What Tony Hayward and referees have in common) I discussed in part how NFL referee Phil Luckett on November 26, 1998 made exactly the right call on a coin toss which several NFL players and coaches tried to imply the referee made a mistake that cost the Pittsburg Steelers the game. From my article: 

My favorite of all time is Phil Luckett. Anyone know him? NFL referee extradornare who had the guts to follow the rules during a coin toss on November 26, 1998 when the Pittsburgh Steelers were playing the Detroit Lions. Yep, this is where Jerome Bettis called "hea-tails" during the coin toss, Luckett when with "heads" as per the rule of the game, the first call uttered is the one to be used. You all know the rest of the story, Steelers lose the toss, and eventually lose the game.

As we can see history can repeat itself and even with the NFL changing how the coin toss must be conducted, if not for the actions Terry McAulay, Superbowl 48 would have started in controversy.

Take a look here to see the article and video.

Mr. McAulay saved the game for falling into controversy with a great catch before the game ever started.

I believe however, he did make one potentially fatal mistake during that exchange ...

Anyone have an opinion?


  1. First off involving Joe N. in anything is risk enough for something to go wrong :)
    I am not sure the proper procedure as written up by the NFL but I always have the "away" team call the toss before the coin leaves my hand. The one issue I saw is that Terry McAulay gave up possession of the coin before Seattle made their choice and has now given up almost all power he has over the rest of the coin toss process. At this point noe side was called so the procedure is not complete. What happened if Seattle were to call it while in the air after it was tossed? Now we have an issue where sports fans and media could easily blow out of proportion saying that Denver may have ended up winning the toss if he hadn't stopped it.

  2. Steve ... you're on point as always.

    There was something else that really caught my eye that I would *never* ask players to do.


  3. What was that action that you saw?

    1. If you look at the clip, you can see and hear McAulay direct the captains to shake hands. It was not a request, it was a requirement.

      At this level it was a small thing, but at different levels I would not suggest folks being asked to shake hands. When (not if) you get a player who says "no," you have a difficult dynamic to diffuse before you even kick off.