|Education||University of Nebraska|
|Occupation||NFL Referee, Attorney|
Clete Blakeman (born in 1964) is an official in the National Football League (NFL) since the 2008 NFL season, wearing uniform number 34. A graduate of the University of Nebraska (where he played quarterback on his university's football team from 1983 to 1987), he began his American football officiating career in the Big 12 Conference, then moved to the NFL in 2008 as a field judge for the first two seasons of his pro football officiating career, and became a referee for the 2010 NFL season after Don Carey returned to the back judge position. He was selected as the alternate referee for Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos in February 2014.
Blakeman's crew was involved in a controversial call at the end of the New England Patriots-Carolina Panthers Monday Night Football game on November 18, 2013. With the Panthers holding a 24–20 lead, the Patriots drove to the Carolina 18-yard line with 3 seconds remaining in the game. On the game's final play, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw a pass towards the end zone. The ball was intercepted by Panthers safety Robert Lester near the front of the end zone, but a flag was thrown by back judge Terrence Miles on linebacker Luke Kuechly for grabbing onto New England Rob Gronkowski near the back of the end zone. The pass interference penalty would have given an un-timed down for the Patriots from the one-yard line. But after a conference with the other officials, the flag was picked up and Blakeman announced that there was no penalty, without an explanation, resulting in the end of the game. It was only after an interview with a pool reporter after the game that Blakeman would explain that there was no penalty because it was ruled that the pass was underthown and determined un-catchable. Asked about this play on the NFL Network, the league's Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino stated a different reason for the no-call than what Blakeman told the pool reporter earlier: that Kuechly's contact with Gronkowski occurred about the same time that Lester made the interception. He also stated that, "I wouldn’t say they are wrong ... When we look at tight judgement calls like this, and we feel that officials followed proper mechanics, we do not downgrade officials for this type of situation ... This play will not affect their postseason assignments." However, former NFL VP of Officiating, and current Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira opined that the penalty should have stood because the pass might have actually landed at Gronkowski's feet had Kuechly not made contact.
Blakeman's 2014 NFL officiating crew consists of umpire Ruben Fowler, head linesman Tony Veteri, line judge Ron Marinucci, field judge David Meslow, side judge Rick Patterson, and back judge Steve Patrick.
- Ex-Husker QB promoted to referee after two years in NFL
- "Newton's late TD lifts Panthers over Pats in thriller". Associated Press. NFL.com. November 18, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
- "Pool Report - New England at Carolina". Patriots.com. November 18, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
[it] was determined at that point in time that when the primary contact occurred on the tight end that the ball, in essence, was coming in underthrown and in essence it was immediate at that point intercepted at the front end of the end zone. So there was a determination that, in essence, uncatchability, that the ball was intercepted at or about the same time the primary contact against the receiver occurred.
- Blandino: We feel the officials followed proper protocol. NFL.com. November 19, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
- "Mike Pereira On Felger & Mazz: Officials Should Have Stuck With Call On Field". CBS Boston. November 19, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
- Austro, Ben. "Officiating crews for the 2014 season". http://www.footballzebras.com/. Retrieved 10 August 2014.