Sportsman's Daily


Last Minute Super Bowl Controversy: League Denies Head Referee’s Request to Be Relieved of Coin Toss Duties

coint toss

Head referee demonstrating proper coin toss technique -- notice the follow-through and positioning of the thumb and forefinger. Unfortunately, even the best technique can fall apart in pressure situations.

MIAMI, FL (The Sportsman's Daily Wire Service) — Veteran referee Bernie Kukar will never forget his first Super Bowl. He walked out onto the field in Miami a nervous wreck. As the National Anthem began to play he thought, “Boy oh boy, I better not screw up this coin toss."

He didn’t, but for the past two months leading up to the big game, Kukar has been afflicted with the dreaded “yips” – a sudden inability to toss a coin properly. The coin toss seems like a simple affair: the head ref stands between members of the two opposing teams and with a flick of the thumb, sends the coin end-over-end roughly 10 feet into the air…the coin begins its dramatic descent and in about 1.5 seconds, it lands gently on the turf, whereupon the referee determines which side is facing up: heads or tails.

In the past two months, Kukar has tossed six coins, with, to put it charitably, mixed results. Yesterday, he petitioned the league office to find an alternative to the traditional coin toss.

“People don’t understand that there’s technique that goes into a proper coin toss – a lot of things can go wrong,” said Jerry Marks, a linesman who worked on Kukar’s crew. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, or if you get a sudden case of the yips – which can happen in a big game – your coin comes down end-over-end like a punt that doesn’t stop rolling. Or you can shank it, the coin kind of squirts out and lands on someone’s foot. Or it sails on you. With Bernie, you didn’t know what you were going to get one week to the next, guys were flinching not wanting to catch one in the eye. It was really getting in his head – by his last game he was such a basket case he just took both captains aside and told them odd finger wins.”

Kukar’s request to the league office was denied. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a member of the Super Bowl officiating crew informed us that Kukar will privately ask respective team captains to guess a number between 1 and 10. The one who comes closest will choose whether or not to receive.

UPDATE: Miami Dolphin great Dan Marino substituted for Bernie Kukar and conducted the opening coin toss. "It's the least I could do," said Marino. "Literally, since the event organizers gave me the option of hosting an all day barbecue, judging a pie eating contest, or this. "

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