BOSTON (CBS) - Mayor Tom Menino met with the Cathedral High School football team Wednesday and offered to host a celebratory lunch with the team after a controversial Super Bowl loss over the weekend.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens reports.
"I wanna show them that there's some people out there who really care about them and who think that they're real champions on the field and off the field," Menino said.
The Cathedral High team was on its way to its first Super Bowl title with quarterback Matthew Owens running for a long touchdown in the final minutes of the game.
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He raised his left arm briefly before crossing the goal line, and according to a referee, that was was a violation of a excessive-celebration rule.
The touchdown did not count, and the ball was brought back to the 24-yard line. Moments later, Owens threw an interception and Cathedral ended up losing 16-14 to the Blue Hills Warriors.
"Anything that brings attention to the individual is something that the rules committee has told us, high school and college level, that is going to be penalized. They're gonna take the individual out of the game and put it back to being a team game, which is what it is," said Bill Stewart, a local coach and referee who was not involved with the game.
"That was totally ridiculous," said Menino. "Go look at the pros. Go look at what they do. Go look at what the college kids do, and all of a sudden we in Massachusetts say, 'Oh no, you can't raise your hand in jubilation at what you've done.' That's unfortunate."
WBZ-TV's Sera Congi reports.
Several people have emerged condemning the referee's call, including Mayor Menino, who said he feels the call sends the wrong message to the kids, and he wants to send the right message.
"This is, once again, some guys who probably put the rules together and never have played sports in their lives but are using the MIAA as a tool for their frustrations because they weren't good athletes," said Menino.
The mayor said he feels the players are winners and plans to invite them to a victory lunch, with the date and time to be determined.
"I don't think anything will ever take the sting away from what happened," said Duane Sigsbury, the coach. "(But Menino's gesture) is very important to our kids. The majority of our students come from Boston."
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the MIAA defended the referee's decision and said there is no provision that allows an official's call to be overturned after the final whistle of the game.
The MIAA also suggested that this could be a teaching moment for the students:
"Athletes must learn to put these things behind them and move forward. During their lifetime they will experience similar situations where they feel "wronged" by a superior or authority figure and they must learn to deal with that situation."
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