Super Bowl Referee Is No Stranger to Strange Episodes


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The N.F.L. chose Clete Blakeman to referee Super Bowl 50. Blakeman has been involved in some unusual incidents on the field in the past, including Deflategate.

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Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Referees have made a lot of news this season, not all of it favorable, and the N.F.L. will hope that the Super Bowl is not remembered for another officiating blunder. Perhaps it is odd, then, that the league has chosen, as the big game’s referee, Clete Blakeman, who struggled to flip a coin successfully earlier in the playoffs. He also played a small but vital role in the Deflategate contretemps, a misadventure the league probably wants to forget.

At the start of overtime in the divisional playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the Arizona Cardinals on Jan. 16, Aaron Rodgers of the Packers called tails. Blakeman threw the coin up, and it landed on heads without ever having flipped over, prompting yelps of complaint from the Packers.

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