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Shutdown Corner

Was NFL officials czar Dean Blandino partying with Cowboys' Jerry Jones?

NFL: Annual Meetings
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Mar 26, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino speaks during a press conference at the NFL Annual Meetings. (Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports)

A TMZ video showed Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and son Stephen Jones, the team's executive vice president, partying with coeds in Los Angeles. The presence of one of the guests could anger some NFL people.

As CBS' Jason La Canfora pointed out, NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino was with them on the bus, which certainly could represent a conflict of interest. La Canfora spoke to several team officials from around the league who expressed concern about the image of Blandino in a social situation with two high-profile Cowboys execs, which could raise the question of competitive balance in the NFL.

"That's definitely Dean," one team official told CBS' La Canfora. "Is the league trying to tell you it's not him? What is the league telling you guys about it? That looks horrible. I can't think of another owner in the league who wouldn't be pissed off after seeing that."

Asked another, rhetorically:

"So, should I have my owner take him to a strip club when he visits us? Is that how it works? We like Dean a lot, but let me tell you, if that was him out with [the owner of a rival of the club this official works for], my owner would be going nuts. This just can't happen.

"It shows a total lack of judgment, and common sense, to get on the bus in the first place. And then to get off of it in that setting? Yeah, we've got a big problem with that. It's one thing to have a drink or two back in the hotel room or whatever, but this goes way beyond that. How does this not look like preferential treatment?

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"This is a league where everyone is looking for any edge they can possibly get, anything at all. And Dean is in a position where he is in communication with clubs all the time, teams are making sure officials are aware about what other teams are doing and what they should look for when they face them. I don't care what anyone [at the league office] would try to tell you. To teams, this is definitely a big deal."

Even though it would be hard to picture Blandino, who has done a good job in his role, being swayed to favor the Cowboys in some kind of official ruling that lands on his desk this season or beyond, it's hard not to imagine that some NFL folks don't like the way this video looks, and La Canfora's reporting appears to back that up.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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