This Sunday is the National Football League’s championship game – Super Bowl LII and millions of football fans will have their eyes glued to television sets to watch the New England Patriots face off against the Philadelphia Eagles. With all the passes, blocks, turnovers and tackles, the player action on the field is what commands fans’ attention.
But the outcome of the game often rests on the shoulders – actually the eyes – of one man who isn’t a professional athlete: The referee. And how many thousands of fans have shouted at the ref: “Get your eyes checked!” after a questionable play call?
This Super Bowl, the eyes calling the plays with the potential to determine who wins, or loses, the game belong to Gene Steratore, a veteran game official who has been a referee with the NFL since 2006.
Interestingly, it appears Mr. Steratore requires vision correction. In fact, it was reported back in 2014 that a game he was officiating was delayed because his contact lens came out during the first quarter.
Those types of disruptions during critical moments in life is why many, including professional athletes, have turned to laser vision correction procedures to improve their vision so they don’t have to rely on contacts and glasses to see clearly. Because when you need sharp, accurate vision instantaneously, contacts and glasses have a habit of letting you down.
What will those eyes be focused on? It is hard to say, but if the buzz leading up to Sunday’s game is any indication it is fair to say Mr. Steratore will be keeping a sharp eye out for catch completions. Just this week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell publicly voiced his concern over the league’s controversial catch rule, which was intended to provide officials with clear guidance for judging what is a catch, and what isn’t. The catch rule requires a player to maintain control of the ball throughout the process of going to the ground, when a lot can happen – including hits, fumbles and turnovers – all in a split second.
Judging those plays accurately puts intense demands on the referee’s vision. And Mr. Steratore has a storied history with the NFL catch rule – having been the referee in two high profile catch calls since the rule went into effect, one during a playoff game in the 2014 post season. So, there will be a lot of fan and league scrutiny on the performance of Mr. Steratore’s eyes on Sunday.
Whether you are rooting for the Patriots or the Eagles, everyone wants a great game with fair officiating on the field. We wish Mr. Steratore the best on Sunday!