Dean Blandino continued his Detroit Lions apology tour this week in the aftermath of the Atlanta Falcons game, in which officials ran off the final eight seconds of the game due to a little-known rule about automatic reviews. In the aftermath of the call, Blandino, the former NFL VP of officiating, explained why the call was correct and by the book. That, in turn, drew plenty of ire from Lions fans everywhere.
As a result, Blandino has tried his hardest to earn the respect of Lions fans. He recently made a video specifically aimed to endear himself to the city of Detroit—in which he mistakenly called Vernor’s “Vernon’s.”
While that attempt clearly failed, Blandino took things a step further this week by joining “The Detroit Lions Podcast,” a podcast unaffiliated with the team.
Blandino faced some really tough questions from the hosts, Chris and Case, and was quite honest and transparent with his answers. He discussed the inner-workings of NFL officiating, including the grading and firing processes for referees and how they work to avoid biases.
But the meat of the 40-minute interview is when they start talking about the tenuous relationship between the Lions and the officials. Here are just a few highlights:
On the ending of the Lions-Cowboys game and the picked up pass interference flag:
“You had an official who made a call—and there was a foul there. Look, whether it was holding or pass interference, there was a foul, and the flag should have stayed down. And I think there was a miscommunication on the field, and the official who eventually came in wasn’t sure what the flag was for.”
On Ndamukong Suh and the meeting he had with officials:
“He actually came into the league office at one point and sat down and I was a part of that meeting... He came into the league office, and I had never met him before, and he really impressed me. He understood—sometimes you try to get the players to understand, some of the players get it, some of the players don’t—he clearly got it. He clearly understood. He said, ‘I’m trying to change the way I tackle. I’m not trying to go to the head.’ And he made a lot of adjustments.”
On potential biases or favoritism among refs:
“That’s something that we’ve actually studied because—I can tell you consciously, no. I think when you get to the NFL, the officials that get to the NFL, they’ve been doing it so long that, you ask them and they don’t see individuals, they see one jersey in one color and one jersey in another color and they’re just trying to get it right, because they’re being analyzed and scrutinized to such a high degree.
Subconsciously? Who knows? We’ve actually studied and looked at different statistics of—okay, is a specific official calling more against the visiting team versus the home team? Are they making more calls for the team that they are on that sideline?”
Unfortunately, Blandino doesn’t talk at all about the 10-second runoff rule, but the full interview is still definitely worth your time. Check it out here. The interview portion starts at the 1:31 mark.