Eagles cornerback James Bradberry admitted after the 2023 Super Bowl that he had, in fact, held Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster when he was whistled for a key fourth-quarter penalty that swung the game in Kansas City’s favor.
“It was holding. I tugged his jersey,” he told reporters in the locker room. “I was hoping they would let it slide.”
It turns out that he wasn’t just giving the officials lip service.
MORE: Why there was ‘no debate’ among officials on controversial defensive holding call vs. Eagles
While the original angle shown on the Super Bowl broadcast made it look like Bradberry’s contact with Smith-Schuster was rather tame, NFL Films captured another angle of the play.
On that one, it is clear that Bradberry did, in fact, tug on Smith-Schuster’s jersey to prevent him from making a play on the ball.
NFL Films gets the perfect shot of the hold on Juju Smith-Schuster. #Chiefs pic.twitter.com/eB3CL0paW1
— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) February 15, 2023
Yes, that is certainly a clear-cut hold. The original angle made it look like a ticky-tack call against Bradberry, but it’s clear that the talented, physical cornerback did more to restrict Smith-Schuster than it initially appeared.
That angle should help put to bed any notion that the NFL had rigged the Super Bowl. “#Rigged” had trended on Twitter after the call against Bradberry, which allowed the Chiefs to run the clock to eight seconds remaining before Harrison Butker kicked a 27-yard go-ahead field goal.
MORE: A.J. Brown goes after JuJu Smith-Schuster after Chiefs WR posts James Bradberry meme
That said, it won’t do anything to cool tensions between the Chiefs and Eagles in a budding rivalry. Players from both teams got into an online scrap on Tuesday after Smith-Schuster gloated by posting a Valentine’s Day meme involving Bradberry.
Eagles wideout A.J. Brown didn’t take kindly to that, and that started a social media battle between the two sides.
Meanwhile, Bradberry has remained largely out of the spotlight since his mistake. The free-agent-to-be said on Sunday that he hoped to be over the play by Monday.
It’s unclear whether he accomplished that goal or if he is still stewing over the costly error.