Super Bowl referee 2023: Explaining the Chiefs’ checkered history with crew chief Carl Cheffers

By | February 11, 2023

Carl Cheffers is becoming synonymous with Super Bowl officiating.

For the third time in seven years and the second time in three years, Cheffers is going to head the officiating crew for the Super Bowl. Cheffers also helmed the teams on Super Bowl 50 and Super Bowl 55, but not everyone is going to be happy to see him.

Chiefs fans may not be especially thrilled to see Cheffers lined up behind the quarterback Sunday– they have a dubious past with the official that peaked in Super Bowl 55 against the Buccaneers.

Although officiating wasn’t the sole reason the Chiefs were throttled 31-9 against the Buccaneers — they need look no further than their brutal offensive line play in that game — it certainly didn’t help. They had eight penalties for 95 yards in the first half at the hands of Cheffers’ crew, including multiple fatal defensive penalties.

The Chiefs’ woes with Cheffers, however, don’t stop there. They have a bit more history with the official and his team. 

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Chiefs’ history with Carl Cheffers as referee

Chiefs fans’ beef with Cheffers dates back to the postseason in 2017, when Cheffers called the Chiefs for a hold on a two-point conversion and was met with the ire of Travis Kelce after the game, who said even Foot Locker shouldn’t give him another opportunity to wear the stripes.

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Cheffers is notoriously flag-happy, so it isn’t just against Kansas City. In fact, Cheffers’ crew has called the most penalties in the NFL over the last two years. Additionally, Cheffers’ crew called the second-most pass interference penalties in the NFL this season; although, he will not be with his normal crew for the Super Bowl. Cheffers’ crew called the second-most pass interference penalties in the NFL this season. But it’s when the Chiefs are on the stage it seems to come up the most. They’re flagged 8.3 times per game in 10 games of the Patrick Mahomes-Andy Reid era, and their Super Bowl run against the Buccaneers ended with 11 flags for 120 yards vs. four penalties for 39 yards for Tampa.

Adding insult to injury, Cheffers was calling a game this season in which Chris Jones was called for a roughing the passer that jump-started another season of controversy about what roughing the passer actually looks like.

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Why Chiefs fans can be optimistic with Cheffers

This may be shocking to hear to Chiefs fans, but in a way, having Cheffers is actually a cause for optimism.

The Chiefs are 16-7 overall with Cheffers as their official, including going 9-2 in their past 11 games. The Eagles are 6-8 overall with Cheffers calling the game.

Despite the high-profile nature of some of Cheffers’ games with the Chiefs, all things told him being behind the quarterback has generally been a good thing for Kansas City.

While none of that translates into an automatic win or loss for the Chiefs, if nothing else, perhaps it at least somewhat levels the playing field to fans who are already feeling like all is lost before the opening coin toss.