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The Referee for the Patriots-Chiefs Game is a Deflategate Co-Conspirator

Source - Football Zebras has confirmed the assignment of referees Bill Vinovich and Clete Blakeman to the Conference Championship games on Sunday. Vinovich will have the NFC game between the Rams and Saints; Blakeman will be heading the crew for the AFC title match between the Patriots and Chiefs.

As a matter of course, I don’t spend a ton of time thinking about who the referee is for an upcoming game. I’m not a gambler so I don’t have a mental file of who throws the fewest flags or who makes the most field-flipping Pass Interference calls. I can name a half dozen or so refs off the top of my head. But honestly, since Ed Hochuli retired to spent more time at the gym, posing nude in art classes and donating his muscular sperm to fertility clinics, the referee issue rarely moves the needle for me.

Well this is one of the times it does. And the operative word in the above paragraph is “needle.”

If the name Clete Blakeman doesn’t ring a bell with you, it should. Five-alarm fire bells. Blakeman was a hands-on operative as the Deflategate sting operation was launched. As we found out in the Wells Report, the league keeps two officials around for the conference championship games. As spares, I guess. Like Miss Runner Up at a beauty pageant, in case the referee in charge of the game can’t fulfill his duties or whatever. So when Mike Kensil grabbed the Patriots footballs just before the half – on the false premise that D’Qwell Jackson said the ball he intercepted off Tom Brady felt kind of squishy, which Jackson himself denied on Barstool Radio – it was left to Blakeman and his fellow funny-named backup official Dyrol Prioleau, to measure the footballs.

I was working at WEEI when the Wells Report was released and we were cold reading it on the air, the ink still wet from the printer. And I’m being 100 percent honest when I say the very first thing that jumped out at me were the fudged numbers between Blakeman and Prioleau:

Blakeman 1

It was explained that they used two different gauges, one long, one short. One with a logo on it, and the other where the logo had fallen off. And they were calibrated differently. This was used to explain the discrepancy between Blakeman’s numbers and Prioleau’s. Putting aside for a second that you’re trying to measure something that supposedly is the most important issue in the history of organized tackle football and threatens the very integrity of the game using faulty equipment, why were the numbers completely the opposite when the tested the Colts’ balls?

Ted Wells’ explanation was that Blakeman and Prioleau must have traded gauges with one another. Right. Because that’s what any reasonable investigator would do. Fuck up the numbers for no reason other than it would be fun to make it all the more confusing. Like twins switching desks in class just to mess with the teacher. Anything as long as it proved the cheating narrative.

Never mind that evidence collected this shoddily would get thrown in a wastebasket by any Assistant District Attorney in the country without charges being filed. But that didn’t stop Wells, who explained it all. In a footnote. Several pages after those charts:

Blakeman 2

So they not only arbitrarily pulled the switchy-changey gag with the gauges, there was “a transcription error” on the one ball that didn’t conform to the story. How do we know? Because “Exponent believes” there was. In that same way Exponent “believed” asbestos in car brakes doesn’t harm mechanics and “believed” cigarettes don’t cause cancer. Which is to say, in the same way they’ll “believe” anything they’re being paid millions to prove.

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. When I was a kid, Ben Dreith made a series of bogus calls that went against the Patriots in the Wild Card game at Oakland (you kids, Google the “Roughing the Passer Game”) and didn’t officiate another Pats game for 11 years after. In Fakeman’s case, four years is too soon.

Maybe Blakeman was just a patsy in Liegate. But he was involved in a sting operation that cost the Pats a 1st round pick they’ll never get back. And it’s worth pointing that out so everyone can keep an eye out to see if he’s now been sent in to finish what Mike Kensil started.