The Detroit Lions secured a decisive victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, earning their ticket to the NFC Championship where they are set to face the perennial powerhouse San Francisco 49ers. As the stage is set for this crucial matchup, the referee assignments have been announced, and unfortunately for the Lions, they find themselves under the oversight of Clete Blakeman, a referee with a troubled history in Detroit.
Clete Blakeman has been entrusted with refereeing duties for the NFC Championship, prompting disappointment among Lions fans. The mere mention of Blakeman brings back memories of the 2019 debacle when the Lions appeared on the verge of defeating the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night, only to be thwarted by a series of controversial calls, resulting in a heartbreaking 23-22 loss and almost ensuring the NFC North title for the Packers.
While the Lions had Blakeman as a referee earlier in the season during their matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, there were no significant issues reported. However, an incident where he waved off a holding call from an umpire raised concerns about his attentiveness to his officiating responsibilities.
Despite Blakeman having one of the lowest totals for flags thrown (220), he has dismissed 45 of those calls, tying for the highest dismissal rate among officiating crews. Recent history includes the memorable flag-heavy game between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys, where flags seemed to fly every 30 seconds, with many being picked up later.
In the playoffs, officiating crews vary from the regular season, introducing an element of unpredictability. However, convincing Lions fans to overlook Blakeman’s contentious history with the team may prove challenging. As the NFC Championship game approaches, all eyes will be on how officiating unfolds, with the shadow of past grievances lingering in the background.