Football Zebras has confirmed the assignment of referees Clete Blakeman and Bill Vinovich to the Conference Championship games on Sunday. Blakeman will have the NFC game between the Buccaneers and Packers; Vinovich will be heading the crew for the AFC game between the Bills and Chiefs. Unlike in past seasons, these two referees did not work during the Wild Card Playoff round.
All times are Eastern.
For the first time in the postseason since Super Bowl I, a full crew of alternate officials has been assigned to this season’s Conference Championships. In the early rounds, the NFL moved to five alternates from four, and the later rounds are seeing an increase, as well. Additionally, for the first time in the postseason, due to the pandemic, the league has assigned alternate replay officials for the Conference Championships and the Super Bowl.
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).
Sunday, Jan. 24
NFC Championship Game: Buccaneers at Packers, 3:05 p.m. Fox
Clete Blakeman is the referee for the NFC Championship Game, who is in his 13th season and 11th as referee. This is Blakeman’s 11th postseason assignment, including 4 Wild Card Playoffs, 3 Divisional Playoffs, 3 Conference Championships, and Super Bowl 50. Those 4 conference or league title games have all been earned in just the past 6 seasons.
Before becoming an official, Blakeman was a second-string quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers from 1984 to 1987. He started a handful of games, most notably a 70-0 shutout of the Kansas Jayhawks in 1986.
Blakeman, 56, came to the NFL from the Big 12 Conference in 2008. After a couple of seasons at field judge, he was promoted to referee in 2010.
Blakeman is a personal-injury attorney in Omaha, where he lives with his wife and two children.
|U||20||Barry Anderson||14||Boger||North Carolina State||builder/developer|
|DJ||28||Mark Hittner||24||Blakeman||Pittsburg State||investment broker|
|LJ||101||Carl Johnson||17||Hochuli||Nicholls State||retired sales manager, former full-time official|
|SJ||41||Boris Cheek||25||Allen||Morgan State||retired director of operations and management|
|BJ||46||Perry Paganelli||23||Vinovich||Hope College||retired high school administrator|
- Replay official: Mike Chase
- Replay assistant: Dexter McNabb
- Referee: Clay Martin
- Umpire: Roy Ellison
- Down judge: Ed Camp
- Line judge: Greg Bradley
- Field judge: Dale Shaw
- Side judge: Allen Baynes
- Back judge: Greg Meyer
- Replay official: Brian Matoren
AFC Championship Game: Bills at Chiefs, 6:40 p.m. CBS
Bill Vinovich will head the crew in the AFC Championship Game.
Vinovich is a perennial top-tier official, as for 6 of the last 7 postseasons, he has earned an assignment to either the Conference Championship or the Super Bowl. This season, he is not eligible for the Super Bowl, as officials cannot work the big game in consecutive seasons.
Vinovich, 59, is a certified public accountant from Lake Forest, Calif. Vinovich also served as a supervisor of NFL officials for 5 seasons, a position he held while sidelined from on-field officiating due to a near-fatal heart condition. Vinovich was hired by the NFL in 2001 making this his 15th season on the field. He is now completing his 12th season, nonconsecutive, as referee.
Prior to joining the NFL, Vinovich officiated in the Mountain West Conference and was a referee in the CFL from 1994 to 1998 when the Canadian circuit included teams in the United States. He also worked in the Arena Football League, and officiated in ArenaBowl XIV prior to jumping to the NFL.
This is his 15th postseason assignment, including 3 Wild Card Playoffs, 5 Divisional Playoffs, 4 Conference Championships, and Super Bowls XLIX and LIV. Both of his Super Bowl assignments were as a referee.
|R||52||Bill Vinovich||15||San Diego||certified public accountant|
|U||128||Ramon George||5||Hochuli||Lenoir-Rhyne||financial underwriter|
|LJ||45||Jeff Seeman||19||Vinovich||Minnesota||brokerage sales|
|FJ||97||Tom Hill||22||Hochuli||Carson Newman||retired teacher/coach|
|SJ||86||Jimmy Buchanan||12||Smith||South Carolina State||food service director|
|BJ||30||Todd Prukop||12||Corrente||Cal State-Fullerton||medical sales representative|
- Replay official: Mark Butterworth
- Replay assistant: Chris Scott
- Referee: Ron Torbert
- Umpire: Carl Paganelli
- Down judge: Kent Payne
- Line judge: Tom Stephan
- Field judge: Aaron Santi
- Side judge: Jonah Monroe
- Back judge: Greg Yette
- Replay official: Jimmy Oldham
Vinovich and Blakeman were also assigned to the two championship games in the 2018 postseason.