Death, taxes and criticizing NFL officiating. Over the years, the enforcing of professional football’s convoluted rulebook has come under fire quite frequently. At the center of every storm, facing them and moving on, was the league’s Senior Vice President of Officiating, Dean Blandino.
"Was", because yesterday the NFL front office sent a letter to the league’s 32 members clubs informing them that Blandino has resigned. According to a report by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, he will leave the NFL to take a job at one of the networks covering the league, most likely FOX (per Pro Football Talk).
Since 2013, Blandino served as the head of the NFL’s officials – albeit never working as an official himself – and would have been at the center of the newly instituted central replay rules. Under the new guidelines, Blandino would have been responsible for making the final call on plays that are being reviewed. Now, this responsibility will fall on whoever the NFL will present as his successor.
The New England Patriots and the other franchises will probably – hopefully! – not feel the change atop the NFL officiating as the vacant spot will likely be filled with someone who brings the experience to succeed Blandino; especially with the new rules in place. Still, the Patriots’ fan base will likely not be sad to see him go.
After all, Blandino was among those league officials who were on the receiving end of (ex-)Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson accusing New England of manipulating the air pressure inside its footballs. Blandino then informed the AFC title game’s referee crew but later denied that the entire operation was a sting - a claim standing in contrast to released emails.
Almost two years later, Blandino’s tenure as head of officiating – just like Deflategate – is on the brink of becoming a thing of the past. And what he leaves behind is a controversial legacy.