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The Bill Belichick/Tom Brady led Patriots are in a record eighth Superbowl. The tandem are going for their sixth win, with the organization clearly at the top of the NFL since the turn of the century. Great teams have a bunch in common. To sustain greatness you need to have great roster moves, great game planning and frankly a little bit of luck. There’s also one more thing that comes in handy, the envy of an official calling the game.
Ever since the great Michael Jordan became”MJ” there’s been an underlying concern for fans favoritism by the refs. Sure there’s always been a favoritism amongst teams, especially at home. Jordan however was (unofficially) the first player to get what I would call “excessive” calls in his favor. Then the flood gates opened.
In Sports today it’s almost understood that certain players at the top will get an extra call or two. From LeBron James to Aaron Rodgers to Clayton Kershaw, if you’re a star, you’re probably getting that call. Tom Brady definitely qualifies, and the calls usually flow his way.
In five Superbowl wins, Brady and company have 30 penalties for 205 yards. Their opponents have 35 penalties for 274 yards. Only the Eagles in Superbowl 39 had less penalties and yards than New England, every other time it went the other way. The two times they lost the big game, New England had ten penalties for 63 yards. Their opponent the New York Giants had a total of 8 penalties for 60 yards. Is that a coincidence? Perhaps.
The Superbowl is not the only championship game every season. In the last three AFC title games, the Patriots have nine penalties for 65 yards. Their opponents, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis have a total of 12 penalties for 130 yards. That’s a bunch of extra yards going in one direction.
Fans reading this shouldn’t take this lightly, this not a conspiracy theory. I’m not saying there’s a guy with a big brown envelope meeting an official at a McDonald’s parking lot somwhere. The numbers aren’t ridiculously far apart, but every little bit counts in games like these. Superbowl 52 might not be won or lost on a blown (or silent) whistle, but if it is you can bet which way that call is going.