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NFL expands referees’ contact with Blandino during playoff games

Dean Blandino, Rich McKay


As a season full of high-profile officiating mistakes comes to a close, the NFL has announced that it will adjust its officiating procedures for the playoffs.

NFL V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino, who already talks to referees while they review instant replays, will now have additional communications with refs during playoff games. Blandino will work from the league’s officiating command center in New York and be in contact with refs about correct enforcement of rules, even beyond the situations covered under the instant replay rules.

“For the 2015 Postseason, consultation may occur between the Referee and the VP of Officiating or his designee located in the league’s officiating headquarters in New York regarding the correct application of playing rules,” a new procedure approved by Commissioner Roger Goodell states. “In addition to the VP of Officiating’s current role in Instant Replay, this consultation will only include the appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, the proper administration of the game clock, the correct down, or any other administrative matter not currently reviewable.”

Blandino will not get involved in calls the league considers “judgment calls,” and he will not tell referees to change penalty calls. But he will keep an eye on issues like whether or not the clock was stopped properly.

The change is a concession to the many coaches, players, members of the media and fans who have complained this season that NFL officiating hasn’t kept up with the constantly evolving sport. Often the fans watching on their HD TVs at home have a better vantage point than the officials on the field. Now Blandino will watch from his HD TV in the league office, and tell the refs when they miss something.