Dean Blandino: Referee “never goes through” with trying to fool defense about who's eligible

The Cowboys' win over the Lions in the 2014 wild-card round was marred by a failure to call a defensive holding (and more) against Dallas. The next day, the league's chief executive explained the situation publicly, and At least he admitted that a mistake had been made.

Now, the league has no one to offer similar public transparency. Don't even try to do that. After Dean Blandino left for Fox, the NFL lost and/or surrendered and/or no longer cared about someone who could present and explain controversial calls to the media and fans.

As Blandino has said in the past, Blandino left the NFL due to the fact that the league didn't value the position well. (That's a tactful way of saying “they're too cheap.”) If Blandino were still working in the league, he could have been making the media rounds after the recent Lions-Cowboys controversy. And Blandino, in his official capacity, could have addressed the underlying problem with the Lions' insistence that its two-point play was reviewed with the officials before the game.

The authorities were unaware of the drama. Officials were aware of a prior attempt to confuse the Cowboys as to which of three different linemen was reporting fit. The Lions did not say they reviewed the snap shell play with officials. So we asked Blandino if, in his experience, officials would ever go with a team effort to confuse a defense about which lineman is eligible.

“If a coach tells the officials that, the officials will tell them they can't do it,” Blandino said. “The referee would never go along with that and make sure the defense knew exactly who was reporting.”

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In other words, Coach Dan Campbell's assertion that he went on the play with the officials is irrelevant. The problem arose with what happened before the play. The Lions certainly weren't trying to share that part of the plan with officials.

The attempt to confuse the cowherds was sure to confuse the officials as well.

For example, if the league had someone like Blandino who could have appeared on Sunday morning pregame shows or various weekday shows and podcasts, or filmed a video to post on social media, Blandino could have pierced the heart. The thing is, quickly and efficiently.

Instead, the perception that the officials screwed up and/or that the league is “against” the Lions has taken root. While the NFL might not have fully opposed the bat signal for Blandino if it had implemented it, the proliferation of stories would have helped illustrate the biggest flaw in the insistence that the play be reviewed with the officials.

This brings me back to a point I made before, and will continue to make. The NFL should bring back Blandino for the sole purpose of providing consistent and complete explanations for any and all controversial calls. And the NFL should rightly respect Blandino's knowledge of the rules and his unique ability to communicate concisely, clearly and persuasively.

What is its value? Considering the overall revenue the NFL generates (and what they pay the commissioner), $10 million a year isn't unreasonable.

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