GLENDALE, Az. – Greg Olsen may have ticked off the NFL officiating community, veteran colleague Mike Pereira and his bosses at Fox Sports.
But the rookie Super Bowl color analyst won the respect of TV viewers, and many famous sports faces, for his gutsy call-out of a ticky-tack penalty that decided Super Bowl 57.
There’s a point in every broadcaster’s career where they face a stark choice. Be honest with viewers; tell them what you believe to be true. Or do what their director, producer, or colleagues want them to do.
Olsen may have to step aside for Tom Brady’s star power in 2024. But he made his bones with less than two minutes to go in Fox’s telecast of the Kansas City Chiefs’ epic 38-35 comeback win over the Philadelphia Eagles here Sunday Night.
With the score tied at 35, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes faced a 3rd-and-8 on the Eagles’ 15-yard line. Mahomes overthrew wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster.
But wait. The zebras called Eagles defensive back James Bradberry for holding.
As a former All-Pro tight end himself, you’d think Olsen would side with Schuster. But he didn’t.
Olsen was honest enough to declare you don’t decide a Super Bowl on a questionable penalty that could or could not be called anytime during the game.
And he directly challenged Pereira, a TV icon who single-handedly created the position of rules analyst.
“I don’t know. Mike, listen, I think on this stage, I think you let them play. Obviously, Mahomes thought he saw it,” Olsen said. “I don’t know; I think you let them play. Finish this thing out. I don’t love that call, Mike.”
Pereira countered that it appeared Bradberry did grab the back of Schuster’s jersey – in which case it would be a hold.
With a fresh set of downs, the game was over. Mahomes milked the clock until the Chiefs kicked the winning field goal.
Fans and players (who’ve been complaining all year about terrible officiating) erupted on social media.
“Bad call. This play happened 40 times in the game. If you don’t call it then, you don’t call it in that moment,” tweeted former NFL QB turned ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III.
NFL Insider Josina Anderson agreed, tweeting: “Terrible call on James Bradberry — part of the script.”
Fox’s own Colin Cowherd supported Olsen. “Hate that call. Not on this stage,” he tweeted. “Eagles haven’t made stops in the second half, but … agree with Greg Olsen.
Ironically, Bradberry fessed up after the game that he did, in fact, hold Schuster.
But should the flag have been called at that moment, in this game, with everything on the line?
Olsen didn’t think so. And there are a lot of viewers who agree with him.