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The NFL referees have been one of the biggest stories of the 2022 season, and that only increased in the playoffs. With the officiating under fire, Roger Goodell and the NFL decided to assign the ref with the most penalty calls the last two seasons, Carl Cheffers, to Super Bowl 57. And after calling a relatively controversy-free contest, Cheffers and his team became the story of the game. A late, soft penalty call gifted the game to the Kansas City Chiefs over the Philadelphia Eagles and sent “rigged” rocketing up the Twitter trending rankings.

NFL referee Carl Cheffers and his crew decided the Super Bowl

Carl Cheffers and his crew threw 14.35 flags per game this season, according to In the Super Bowl, Cheffers worked with an “All-Star” crew and not his usual team. Still, the NFL referees’ group called nine accepted penalties in the Big Game.  

In the end, the Chiefs had three penalties for 15 yards, while the Eagles were called for six with 33 yards in backward steps.

However, none of those calls truly mattered like the last one. On 3rd-and-8 in a 35-35 game, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes overthrew JuJu Smith-Schuster to (seemingly) stop the clock and force a field goal with 1:54 to go.

That’s not how it worked out, though, as one of Cheffers’ crew called holding on Eagles cornerback James Bradberry.

The CB did grab at Smith-Schuster’s hips a bit, but it wasn’t egregious. The soft call gave the Chiefs an automatic first down and allowed them to run the clock down to 0:11 and kick the game-winning field goal.

It was a horrible way to end a classic Super Bowl.

Why people think the NFL is ‘rigged’ for the Chiefs 

NFL referee, Super Bowl, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, NFL rigged
NFL referee Carl Cheffers does the coin toss before Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles | Rob Carr/Getty Images

While most fans don’t truly think the NFL is rigged, it is getting easier and easier to see how some fans and fan bases so quickly make that leap.

This season had questionable calls throughout, even some that went against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, but the last two games of the season got a little strange. Mahomes is the best quarterback in the league, so, of course, some will say he gets calls other QBs don’t (and he probably does).

The AFC Championship really sent the “NFL rigged” crowd into a frenzy, though, after some strange calls led to the Chiefs beating the Cincinnati Bengals. There was a 3rd-down re-do in the fourth quarter and a late hit call at the end that got the Chiefs into game-winning field goal range.

The calls in that game were generally the right ones, but Bengals fans didn’t want to hear it.

To have the Super Bowl decided for the Chiefs in a similar fashion — this time on a worse call — was disappointing for many and triggering for some.

The NFL isn’t rigged, but the more NFL referee calls like this decide playoff and Super Bowl games, the harder it is going to be to convince some people of that fact.


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