Clete Blakeman is relatively new to the scene.
Hired by the NFL in 2008, he became a head referee two years later and is now in his sixth season at the position. He has quickly become one of the more respected refs in the league, serving as the alternate for last year’s Super Bowl and now getting the call for this year’s Big Game.
Record With Blakeman Reffing: 5-0
Record Against the Spread: 4-1-0 (W-L-P)
Total Score: Broncos 141, Opponents 79
Broncos Penalties: 21 penalties for 195 yards (4.2 for 39.0 per game)
Opponents Penalties: 40 penalties for 374 yards (8.0 for 74.8 per game)
The numbers certainly look lopsided towards the Broncos, but five games is hardly a big enough sample size to draw any meaningful conclusions.
Blakeman hasn’t reffed any Broncos contests this season. The last one he did was in December of 2014, when Denver blew out the Oakland Raiders, 47-14. In that game, the Broncos were flagged one time for 16 yards, while the Raiders were penalized nine times for 86 yards.
Record With Blakeman Reffing: 2-2
Record Against the Spread: 2-2-0 (W-L-P)
Total Score: Panthers 68, Opponents 96
Panthers Penalties: 29 penalties for 256 yards (7.25 for 64.0 per game)
Opponents Penalties: 20 penalties for 166 yards (5.0 for 41.5 per game)
As you may recall, one of Blakeman’s most infamous moments as a referee involved the Panthers.
On Monday Night Football in 2013, the Patriots, trailing Carolina by four points, were driving down the field in the final seconds. On the game’s final play, Tom Brady threw an interception in the end zone, but as Luke Kuechly bear-hugged Rob Gronkowski, flags flew.
It appeared the Pats were going to get one un-timed down from the one-yard line, but Blakeman picked up the flag and ended the game without an explanation. Memorably, Brady continued after Blakeman, yelling at him well into the tunnel:
Dean Blandino, the NFL’s VP of Officiating, backed up Blakeman’s decision.