The NFL announced the referee for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, and the news was not well-received in the greater Boston area.
Clete Blakeman will work his second straight AFC title game, and Chiefs fans may recall he was part of the so-called “All-Star” officiating crew that worked the Chiefs’ 54-51 loss to the Rams this season.
So some in Kansas City may not be thrilled by the NFL’s decision.
But many in Boston are downright unhappy.
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Some Patriots fans recall how Blakeman shook hands with Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles in last year’s AFC Championship Game (but Blakeman also congratulated quarterback Tom Brady after that contest).
Worse yet in the minds of Patriots fans, Blakeman worked the AFC Championship Game in 2015. You may recall that was the start of “Deflategate.” Blakeman measured the PSI in the footballs and led the NFL down a strange path that ultimately ended in Brady’s suspension.
So, yes, some in the greater New England area were none too pleased about Blakeman’s assignment.
Michael Hurley of CBS Boston wrote a story with the headline, “Clete Blakeman, who partook in dubious DeflateGate testing, will be referee for Patriots-Chiefs AFC Championship Game.
Here is an excerpt: “(H)is history and the Patriots’ record in his games shouldn’t necessarily cause controversy. The NFL, after all, only has so many referees, and the league tends to want to put its best officials in the biggest games. For Blakeman, two straight AFC championships is the mark of what the league considers to be strong work. He also was the referee for Super Bowl 50, at the end of the 2015 season. Clearly, his officiating is grading out well.
“However, this question is more than fair: If Walt Coleman was never assigned to a Raiders game after he properly applied the Tuck Rule in the famed Snow Bowl, then how and why should any official who was involved in the farce that was the DeflateGate air pressure measurement process and whose testimony was instrumental in the NFL calling for significant punishment on the team and the quarterback ever be assigned to another Patriots game — let alone two consecutive conference championship games?”
Jerry Thornton of Barstool Sports wrote a story with the headline, “The referee for the Patriots-Chiefs game is a Deflategate co-conspirator.”
Here is part of what he wrote: “To be clear, in no way am I saying the game in Kansas City is a bag job because Clete Blakeman has it in for the Patriots. But there is no way he should be assigned to a game of this magnitude so soon after he had his literal fingerprints all over the evidence in the most blatant witch hunt/fake scandal in our lifetimes. A game in which the temperature is expected to be in the single digits and he has already been part of a cabal of guys who were completely ignorant of what happens to a football in cold weather.”
Some fans chimed in as well: