Clete Blakeman, like most of his colleagues, is a relatively nondescript NFL official. You don’t really notice he’s there and could easily confuse him with a handful of other referees you saw this season.
For Blakeman, like all refs, the problem is this: we only know who he is if he makes a high-profile mistake. This season Blakeman made two.
The lesser of his struggles occurred this past December, when he missed key calls in an Indianapolis Colts’ victory over the Tennessee Titans. After that game Titans head coach Mike Munchak said that the NFL notified him that three calls were missed in the game.
Blakeman’s famous call then came on Monday night football, when he overturned his back judge to rule that there was no pass interference committed on Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone as the New England Patriots lost to the Carolina Panthers.
Word came today that the NFL assigned Blakeman and his crew to this weekend’s game between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers. If the numbers are to be believed, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker would do well to keep their hands to themselves in Sunday’s game. From the Denver Post’s Nick Groke:
A quick glance at Blakeman’s stats shows that he and his crew called 5 percent more penalties against the home team this season than the league average. He and his crew also flagged the most offensive pass interference calls this season. But he oversees slightly fewer penalties overall than the NFL ref average.
If not for those two public blunders, Blakeman’s crew was probably pretty solid this past season. Even if they weren’t, there’s a good chance that they would acquit themselves nicely in the big stage in a fashion similar to Jeff Triplette in the Wild Card round.