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Blakeman takes #HotRef in stride, appears on ‘Today’ and ‘Access Hollywood Live’


Super Bowl 50 referee Clete Blakeman has lead a relatively obscure existence in the NFL, with an occasional reference here, although I’ve even admitted in the past to be “riding high on the Clete Blakeman bandwagon.”  

The first sign that something was piquing the interest of fans on Sunday was when our post “Who will be the referee at Super Bowl 50?” was suddenly being viewed in record numbers right after the opening coin toss. (It was actually a post with our predictions, not even the post with the actual assignment.)  Twitter being the mashup of every corner of everyday life began converting Blakeman into #HotRef. Appearing on the fourth hour of  Today with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, Blakeman said he was surprised by all of the attention. “It was one of those where it happened, I thought ‘well, it’s just a couple of tweets going out,’ blah-blah-blah, but then it got that momentum, and it started blowing up and the guys in the locker room are giving me some business.”

Later, he appeared on  Access Hollywood Live  with Billy Bush and Kit Hoover (sports connection: formerly of ESPN’s  Cold Pizza sports-themed morning yakker),  which is airing from New York this week.

Blakeman just finished his 8th NFL season, and 6th at the referee position. This was his first Super Bowl assignment and his 6th postseason game, in addition to  3 Wild Card games and 2 Divisional Playoffs (including this year’s Packers-Cardinals overtime thriller with the non-flipping coin). He has only missed one postseason out of the seasons  he’s been eligible for.

During the week and the offseason, he is a personal-injury attorney and partner  at his  law firm. He lives with his wife, Katie, in Omaha, Neb., where they are raising  their two children, Maeve and Hudson.

Blakeman  was a backup quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers from 1983 to 1987, after which he began officiating high school football games. From there, he worked up to the Big 12 Conference, and was hired by the NFL in 2008 by VP of officiating Mike Pereira.  Referee magazine had a profile feature on Blakeman in their February 2015 issue.

His  Today show appearance is below, and for photos of Blakeman and his crew in action from Sunday, check out our photo gallery.

Image: Photo by Bill Sitzmann/Omaha Magazine. Football Zebras graphic by Ben Austro.

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Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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10 thoughts on “Blakeman takes #HotRef in stride, appears on ‘Today’ and ‘Access Hollywood Live’

  1. stupid… just stupid… bunch of dumb women who are intolerable and know nothing about football getting their estrogen levels up….

  2. In having one of those authentic shirts, the sleeves only look like that when you have them altered yourself.

  3. Imho this is very unprofessional behavior by Blakeman. Referees should not be celebrities. In my eyes an official should do a good and professional job on the field (which they did on Sunday) but then disappear.

  4. I agree dmb but I think Mr H changed that with his guns lol……Jerome – you know Ed wears his short sleeves that way! Lol.

  5. Get over yourself dmb. Refs are human too and all the criticism they have had to endure this season let them have some fun and show the world that refs are people too. Blakeman didn’t go seeking the attention. It found him.

  6. I initially rolled my eyes, but I then thought, how often do we get viral officiating story that isn’t mired in controversy? It was a fun little piece, and I was glad to see Clete enjoying his moment.

  7. Ben the reason he is doing this is becusse this was his only?chance got a very low rating for the game.

    Dean really took him to task for being out of posistion on late fumble and missing?the illegal batting call on von miller.

    In my conversation with dean he called it a mistake not acceptable at high school level. This isa reason why umpire behind line today.
    Ref supposed to observe pile not look in. Also dean is frustrated he missed peyton being down?by contact on Panthers 2nd challenge.

  8. Let’s not be HATERS. If ANY OF YOU (and your wife) had a chance to be on National TV, you’d turn it down???–Don’t lie!

    The honeys think he’s all that and a bag of chips–it is what it is. So don’t hate, appreciate. Get your hind parts off the couch and get in shape.

    Maybe YOU TOO could be a Clete Blakeman…lol

    Congrats Clete!

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