Literature, music, cinema and paintings are all things that come to mind when someone talks about art forms. If you ask Tennessee football offensive lineman Cooper Mays, he would throw in blocking as well.
What makes offensive line play an art? The art of not getting caught.
“Holding is a penalty, but like you’re probably a better offensive lineman if you’re good at holding, if that makes sense,” Mays told Off The Hook Sports. “Like the art of holding without getting caught is a very important skill. So you just got to be really discreet about it.”
While officials get a lot of hate from fans, coaches and players alike, it is virtually impossible to call every foul in a game.
The most recent issue with officials came at the end of the Super Bowl. As many have seen over and over, Eagles defensive back James Bradberry was flagged for holding on third down, allowing the Chiefs to run the clock out and clinch the Super Bowl.
As Bradberry referenced after the game, he was hoping the officials missed his hold. As Mays says, they miss penalties often.
“You can get beat but on the way maybe throw a hold in there,” Mays said. “Maybe just the extra little grab of the cloth and you still get beat, but the guy doesn’t make the tackle because he’s maybe a half-yard away. And you look back on it and that guy, sure enough, would have probably made the play if you didn’t have the holding.”
If Mays is holding you, he’s doing it on purpose.
“I can’t speak for everybody,” he said. “When I’m holding it, I definitely hold on purpose, but I just do it in a way that I know I won’t get caught. When I hold, I don’t even worry about like throwing my hands up or looking back at the ref to see if it got caught. I don’t even worry about it. I just keep running. I am confident in my abilities.”
With everything going on at the line of scrimmage, especially at center, Mays says it’s impossible for an official to know who is holding and who isn’t.
Back to Bradberry’s hold in the Super Bowl, social media seems split on if it was a good call or not. There have been several angles of the play, arguing for hold or no hold.
While Mays agrees that the penalty wasn’t the best ending to the Super Bowl, he can’t argue against the call.
“Personally, I think you should call the game the same way every single time,” Mays said. “If you think it’s a foul, then go ahead and throw the flag… If you’re looking at the definition, he definitely hindered his break and his release. So, if you’re looking for definition, it was a hold. But, I understand what people’s argument is, I guess.”