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Clete Blakeman

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Clete Blakeman
Born Cletus W. Blakeman
(1964-06-23) June 23, 1964 (age 52)
Blair, Nebraska
Nationality United States
Education University of Nebraska
Occupation NFL official, attorney

Cletus W. "Clete" Blakeman (born June 23, 1964)[1] is an American football official in the National Football League (NFL); former backup quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers (1984-1987); and partner in the law firm of Carlson & Burnett in Omaha.[2] His uniform number is 34.

Blakeman began his American football officiating career in the Big 12 Conference, moving to the NFL in 2008 as a field judge for the first two seasons of his pro football officiating career, and subsequently refereeing for the 2010 NFL season, after Don Carey returned to the back judge position.[3]

Selected in 2013 as the alternate referee for Super Bowl XLVIII, Blakeman officiated Super Bowl 50 in 2016.[4]

College football career[edit]

Blakeman attended the University of Nebraska from 1984 to 1987, serving primarily as a backup quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, including the 1986 and 1987 seasons behind starter Steve Taylor.[5][6]

During Nebraska's game against the unranked Colorado Buffaloes on October 25, 1986, head coach Tom Osborne replaced Taylor with Blakeman in the fourth quarter. Colorado still limited Blakeman to 4 out of 6 completions for 37 yards, and held on to upset the Huskers, 20-10, their first win over Nebraska since 1967 and the Buffaloes' first win over Nebraska at home since 1960.[7]

On October 3, 1987, South Carolina was leading Nebraska, 21-13, when Taylor left the game after injuring his shoulder on the last play of the 3rd quarter. In relief, Blakeman only completed 1 of 1 passes for 8 yards.[8] But aided by a strong running game, and Nebraska's Blackshirts defense that forced two turnovers and allowed only 9 yards in the 4th quarter, the Huskers rallied around Blakeman to score 17 unanswered points to win, 30-21.[9]

Blakeman also started two games in place of an injured Taylor, both of which were victories over the Kansas Jayhawks. On November 15, 1986, he threw three touchdown passes and ran for another as he led Nebraska to a 70-0 rout, the worst defeat in Jayhawk history and the biggest shutout by Nebraska up to that point.[10] And on October 10, 1987, Blakeman completed 10-of-12 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown in Nebraska's 54-2 victory over Kansas.[11]


Passing[12] Rushing
1984 0 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A 8 17 2.1 1
1985 3 5 60.0 22 0 0 15 65 4.3 0
1986 19 37 51.4 242 4 2 26 110 4.2 4
1987 23 37 62.2 361 3 2 27 90 3.3 2
Totals 45 79 57.0 625 7 4 76 282 3.7 7

Officiating career[edit]


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.

After conferring with the other officials, the flag was picked up and Blakeman announced there was no penalty, without explanation, resulting in the end of the game.[13] It was only after an interview with a pool reporter after the game that Blakeman said that there was no penalty because it was ruled that the pass was underthrown and determined un-catchable.[14]

Asked about this play on the NFL Network, the league's Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino cited 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.[15] He also said, "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."[15] 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.[16]

Blakeman's 2016 NFL officiating crew consists of umpire Ramon George, head linesman Hugo Cruz, line judge Tony Veteri, field judge Adrian Hill, side judge Joe Larrew, and back judge Steve Patrick.[17]

Blakeman and his crew officiated Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016 in which the Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 24-10.[18]


  1. ^ "Cletus W. Blakeman". MoreLaw. Retrieved February 8, 2016. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Ex-Husker QB promoted to referee after two years in NFL
  4. ^ Clete Blakeman is referee for Super Bowl 50
  5. ^ "NFL: Former Husker Clete Blakeman Will Officiate". Bleacher Report. May 11, 2008. Retrieved January 31, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Ex-Husker's season grade lands him the referee's job for the Super Bowl". January 21, 2016. Retrieved January 31, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Colorado 20, Nebraska 10". 1986. Retrieved January 31, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Nebraska 30, South Carolina 21". 1987. Retrieved February 4, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Close Call Wakes Up Nebraska : Cornhuskers Win With Fourth-Quarter Rally, 30-21". Associated Press. Los Angeles Times. October 4, 1987. Retrieved February 4, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Nebraska 70, Kansas 0". 1986. Retrieved January 31, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Nebraska 54, Kansas 2". 1987. Retrieved January 31, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Clete Blakeman". Sports Reference. Retrieved February 7, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Newton's late TD lifts Panthers over Pats in thriller". Associated Press. November 18, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Pool Report - New England at Carolina". 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. 
  15. ^ a b Blandino: We feel the officials followed proper protocol. November 19, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Mike Pereira On Felger & Mazz: Officials Should Have Stuck With Call On Field". CBS Boston. November 19, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  17. ^
  18. ^