Dubious Deflategate ref Clete Blakeman will call AFC championship, where balls will likely again lose air pressure in frigid Kansas City

Alex Reimer
January 16, 2019 - 1:32 pm

Veteran NFL official Clete Blakeman will be the head referee for the Patriots’ AFC championship clash against the Chiefs Sunday, and he holds a dubious place in New England history. 

The Patriots’ first notable run-in with Blakeman occurred in 2013. He was on the call for the infamous “Monday Night Football” game when Panthers linebacker Luke Keuchly mauled Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone, and wasn’t flagged for pass interference. Back judge Terrence Miles threw the flag initially, but then picked it up.

Two years later, Blakeman was one of the officials who measured the Patriots’ deflated footballs at halftime of the 2015 AFC championship. Serious Deflategate historians will remember Blakeman’s balls –– Deflategate puns will always be funny –– were measured at 0.4 PSI lower than his fellow alternate official, Dyrol Prioleau. Blakeman’s measurements of the Colts’ footballs were also 0.41 PSI higher. 

Ace investigator Ted Wells blamed the discrepancy on the referee’s different gages, but still, that’s weird. 

And with the game time temperature Sunday expected to be in the single digits, the footballs will lose some air. We know all about the Ideal Gas Law, partially thanks to Blakeman. How coincidental he’s back on the call when deflated footballs may once again be a topic of conversation (thank goodness the Patriots aren’t facing the Colts, or this would get very odd).

Of course, the Patriots' experiences with Blakeman aren't all bad. He was on the call during last year’s AFC championship, when six of the seven accepted penalties when against the Jaguars.

New England must be hoping that Blakeman shows up Sunday. 

Related: Tom Brady is in midst of his best playoff run ever