The 2023 Super Bowl will be remembered for many things, but one moment that has lingered in the minds of fans was the controversial defensive holding penalty on JuJu Smith-Schuster by James Bradberry.
It was a call that allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to close out their 38-35 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. However, new footage of the play has been released by NFL Films, revealing that Bradberry was indeed tugging on the back of Smith-Schuster’s jersey. While there have been instances of similar contact being deemed incidental, the play was a hold by the letter of the law.
Football Zebras, a website focused on football officiating content, has weighed in on the matter, explaining that the broadcast angle did not provide a definitive view of the play. The site’s article also states that the jersey tug caused Smith-Schuster to lose steps, and Bradberry’s right arm also obstructed his route. Ultimately, the field judge John Jenkins made the correct call, according to the article.
Bradberry himself has owned up to the hold, admitting that he was hoping the officials would not notice it. He explained that he had two options after the game: take responsibility for the hold or shift the blame onto someone else. Bradberry chose to take accountability, a decision he credits to his past coaches and his mother.
Social media reacted to the incident in a predictable fashion, with Smith-Schuster posting a fake Valentine’s Day card featuring Bradberry and a cheeky message. In response, Antonio Brown, a former teammate of Smith-Schuster’s, tweeted a message congratulating the Chiefs but also criticizing Smith-Schuster’s career.