Football Zebras has confirmed the assignment of referees Bill Vinovich and Clete Blakeman to the Conference Championship games on Sunday. Vinovich will have the NFC game between the Rams and Saints; Blakeman will be heading the crew for the AFC title match between the Patriots and Chiefs. Vinovich and Blakeman both officiated on the field in the Wild Card round.
Officials are listed with their uniform number, years of NFL experience (including this season), the crew each official worked with in the regular season (by the referee’s name), college, and outside occupation.
All times are Eastern.
Three alternates are assigned to each game: generally, one is designated for the offensive backfield (a referee or umpire), one is on the line of scrimmage (down judge or line judge), and one is a deep position (side judge, field judge, or back judge). When alternates are listed, their position during the regular season is also given. The prior playoff experience that is listed for the crew chief includes his service as an NFL official, including as referee and any other crew position (excluding alternate assignments).
NFC Championship Game, Rams at Saints, 3 p.m. ET Fox
Bill Vinovich was the referee in Super Bowl XLIX and will now head his third Conference Championship in four seasons.
Vinovich was hired by the NFL in 2001, and was on medical leave for 5 seasons, making this his 13th season on the field. While on leave, Vinovich worked as a regional supervisor and grader in the league office. He is now completing his 10th season, nonconsecutive, as referee.
This is his 12th postseason assignment and 4th Conference Championship. He has also worked 3 Wild Card Playoffs, 4 Divisional Playoffs, and the Super Bowl.
Vinovich officiated the game between these two teams earlier this season in Week 9, which also took place in New Orleans.
Vinovich lives in Lake Forest, Calif., and is a Division I college basketball referee and a certified public accountant.
|R||52||Bill Vinovich||13||San Diego||certified public accountant|
|U||102||Bruce Stritesky||13||Vinovich||Embry Riddle||airline pilot|
|DJ||13||Patrick Turner||5||Corrente||Cal State-Long Beach||plant manager|
|LJ||59||Rusty Baynes||9||Boger||Auburn-Montgomery||general manager, safety services*|
|FJ||97||Tom Hill||20||Hochuli||Carson Newman||teacher*|
|SJ||60||Gary Cavaletto||16||Vinovich||Hancock||general manager, agricultural operations|
|BJ||30||Todd Prukop||10||Corrente||Cal State-Fullerton||medical sales representative|
*indicates full-time official
- Replay official: Mike Wimmer
- Replay assistant: Bill Ellis
- Alternates: Jerome Boger (R), Mark Perlman (LJ), Steve Freeman (BJ)
AFC Championship Game, Patriots at Chiefs, 6:40 p.m. ET CBS
After missing the playoffs entirely following the 2016 season, Clete Blakeman will now work his second consecutive Conference Championship.
Blakeman was hired by the league in 2008, worked two seasons as a field judge, and is now in his 9th season as referee.
This is his 9th postseason assignment, including 4 Wild Card Playoffs, 2 Divisional Playoffs, 2 Conference Championships, and Super Bowl 50.
Blakeman is a personal-injury attorney in Omaha, Neb., where he lives with his wife and two children.
|U||92||Bryan Neale||5||Smith||Indiana||sales consultant|
|DJ||8||Dana McKenzie||11||Blakeman||Toledo||claims adjuster|
|LJ||79||Kent Payne||15||Martin||Nebraska Wesleyan||teacher|
|FJ||43||Terry Brown||13||Anderson||Tennessee||probation supervisor|
|SJ||88||Brad Freeman||5||Martin||Mississippi State||sports park director*|
|BJ||78||Greg Meyer||17||Cheffers||Texas Christian||banker*|
*indicates full-time official
- Replay official: Carl Madsen
- Replay assistant: Tyler Cerimeli
- Alternates: Tony Corrente (R), Derick Bowers (LJ), Adrian Hill (SJ)