MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

So it’s the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 57, both 16-3 on the season and both the top seeds in their conferences, marking the first time top seeds will meet since 2017 when Philadelphia beat New England.

The Eagles had little trouble advancing, rolling the San Francisco 49ers, 31-7, for the NFC title, while the Chiefs beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, for the AFC title.

For what it’s worth, which is nothing since I didn’t bet, I had San Francisco meeting Cincinnati in the Super Bowl, so there’s that. In any event, the Eagles are the early favorite at -1.5.

The biggest takeaway from the day was the officiating in both games was absolutely horrible, which in itself is not surprising, but you would think #NFLTheTVShow would have had its two best crews working the two biggest games of the season to that point, and maybe they actually did; who can ever tell what a good crew is anymore? It just didn’t play out that way.

This is not to suggest the decisive late hit on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was not a late hit and should not have been called. It was a late hit and it should have been called. Yet so was the hit the Chiefs defender put on Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow just a few minutes prior to that but was not called. Just in a matter of minutes, one was ignored and one was called the other way.

It would be inexcusable if it weren’t so typical, as NFL referees are not held accountable by the league the way players are. The players may make the money, but it’s the officials who decide the money, so it would be nice if the NFL every once in a while explained itself. Of course, why should they when they don’t have to? You never heard Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland explain themselves to the gang when they put on a show, because it was their show.

Anyway, the legend of Patrick Mahomes continues to grow, as the Chiefs quarterback gave a gutty performance playing on one healthy leg, somehow making all of the plays that mattered to help put Kansas City into another Super Bowl.

I think it’s safe to say the NFL has its heir apparent to Tom Brady as the face of its TVShow, whether Brady ever goes away or not, which you get the feeling will be not.

As for the NFC game, the 49ers began living their own nightmare almost from the beginning, as rookie sensation third-string quarterback Brock Purdy suffered an injury to his passing elbow on the team’s first possession of the game. The backup, former Raven Josh Johnson, then left to concussion protocol on the 49ers’ first drive of the second half.

With Purdy and Johnson injured, San Francisco nearly turned to its emergency quarterback, either fullback Kyle Juszczyk or running back Christian McCaffrey. However, Purdy was thrown back to the wolves despite it being obvious he couldn’t throw, which severely limited the 49ers to the run while they had to chip away at a deficit.

It was painful to watch, and while I don’t believe it would have affected the outcome (although, who knows?), it makes you wonder if the NFL will now rethink its decision to have eliminated the third-quarterback designation.

From 1990 until 2010, NFL rules governed the use of an emergency third quarterback in addition to the starter and backup, which read, “Teams will be permitted an Active List of 45 players and an Inactive List of eight players for each regular-season and postseason game. Provided that if a club has two quarterbacks on its 45-player Active List, a third quarterback from its Inactive List is permitted to dress for the game, but if he enters the game during the first three quarters, the other two quarterbacks are thereafter prohibited from playing.”

The NFL abolished the rule in 2011 and increased the roster size to allow 46 players to dress for the game, but rarely do teams use the 46th player for a third quarterback who is not likely to play. Rather, that slot has been used to address special teams or depth at other positions.

So you can blame the 49ers decision making if you want to, but what were the odds going to be they would need a third quarterback? Of course, what were the odds we would even know who Brock Purdy was, so you never know.

Either way, the NFL has a history of making knee-jerk decisions and reversals depending on what we’ve just seen, so maybe the third-quarterback designation will return next year, depending on how much owners and the NFL Players Association do or do not believe it is necessary.

More like depending on how much it will cost. I mean, what does the quality of your product matter if you can save yourself a few nickels?

More on the Super Bowl later.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT