Ahead of today’s AFC championship game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs, fans in Boston remain a little upset over the NFL’s decision to have referee Clete Blakeman call their team’s AFC championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
No one has accused Blakeman of bias, but back in 2013 Tom Brady was among the Patriots players who expressed anger at his decision to pick up a flag at the end of the game that cost the Patriots the chance of beating the Carolina Panthers.
It was also Blakeman’s air gauge that determined the Patriots had under-inflated footballs compared to the Indianapolis Colts during the 2014 playoffs in the scandal that became known as “Deflategate.”
“With temperatures expected to be in the single digits Sunday night in Kansas City, the world should hope that Blakeman stays far, far away from gauges and needles at halftime,” wrote CBS Boston sports reporter Michael Hurley. But Hurley and Patriots fans can rest easy, since the NFL changed its procedure for monitoring football pressure in 2015.
Many Los Angeles Rams fans were also upset with the NFL over it’s decision to have referee Bill Vinovich call today’s NFC championship game against the New Orleans Saints, which is currently airing on FOX with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the booth.
The Rams are 0-8 in games that Vinovich has called since 2012. Two of the Rams three losses this season came in games refereed by Vinovich, including their Nov. 4 loss against the Saints.
One Rams fan was so incensed over referee assignment that he started a petition on Change.org to have Vinovich removed from the game. As of Sunday morning, more than 7,600 people had signed on to the petition.
“There is no reason to repeat the exact same officiating crew for the rematch in the playoffs, other than to stack the odds for Drew Brees to go out with a ring,” the petition stated. “Whether or not the bias is intentional, there is too much data to demonstrate a pattern, and for a corporation as big as the NFL to not see this pattern is highly unlikely.”
Here’s everything you need to know to watch today’s game:
When: Sunday, Jan. 20
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
Time: 6:40 p.m.
TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson)
Radio: 94.1 WIP via Westwood One (Kevin Kugler, Tony Boselli, Ross Tucker)
Streaming: CBS All Access, FuboTV, NFL GamePass, YouTube (all require a subscription)
Mobile: NFL Mobile app and Yahoo Sports app (free on smartphones and tablets within the Philadelphia market)
Referee: Clete Blakeman
On the NFL Network, coverage begins at 7 a.m. with Good Morning Football: Weekend, hosted by Colleen Wolfe and featuring analysts Michael Robinson, Steve Smith Sr., and Mike Garafolo. A special six-hour edition of NFL GameDay Morning starts at 9 a.m., hosted by Rich Eisen alongside analysts Steve Mariucci, Kurt Warner, and Michael Irvin. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport will provide live updates throughout the morning.
ESPN will begin its coverage at noon with a three-hour edition of Postseason NFL Countdown. Sam Ponder hosts alongside analysts Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss, Rex Ryan, Charles Woodson, and Louis Riddick. Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will provide live updates.
FOX kicks off its coverage at 1 p.m. with FOX NFL Kickoff, hosted by Charissa Thompson alongside former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, FS1 host Colin Cowherd, former head coach Dave Wannstedt, and reporter Peter Schrager. Next up at 2 p.m. is FOX NFL Sunday, hosted by Terry Bradshaw and Curt Menefee. They’ll be joined by analysts Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson, Michael Strahan, and Tony Gonzalez, with updates from NFL insider Jay Glazer.