Patriots-Chiefs: Ref tabbed for AFC Championship has Deflategate ties and Patriots fans are irate

The NFL has officially announced the officiating crew that will be working the AFC title game on Sunday (6:40 p.m. ET, CBS, stream on CBS All Access) and it appears that Patriots fans aren't too happy with the league's choice. 

The NFL has tabbed Clete Blakeman to serve as referee, and although that name might not sound completely familiar to everyone, it's definitely a familiar name to Patriots fans and that's because Blakeman played a key role in Deflategate. 

Way back in January 2015, Blakeman was working the AFC title game between the Colts and the Patriots as an alternate official, which usually isn't a very exciting job. However, after accusations started to fly that the Patriots were letting air out of their footballs, Blakeman's job suddenly became very important: He was one of the officials in charge of measuring the air pressure in each football. As noted in the Wells Report, Blakeman's job at halftime was to measure the air of 11 Patriots footballs and four Colts footballs. Although every Colts ball passed the air pressure test, Blakeman noted that all 11 Patriots football were below the 12.5 PSI threshold. 

The problem created by Blakeman is that he used a different pressure gauge than the other official who was also taking measurements. The issue here is that Blakeman's gauge came up with a lower number on every reading which means it's theoretically possible that there might have been something wrong with his gauge. 

Although all of this happened four years ago, Patriots fans still haven't forgotten and if you need proof, let's take a quick look on Twitter to see how they feel about the fact that Blakeman will be the ref in this week's game. 

The good news for Patriots fans is that Blakeman was actually the ref during last season's AFC Championship, a game that New England won 24-20 over the Jaguars

Blakeman started his NFL officiating career as a field judge in 2008 before being promoted to referee in 2010. Here's a look at how the Patriots and Chiefs have done when Blakeman served as the ref in one of their games. SPOILER ALERT: The Patriots have been worse (stats via Pro Football Reference).

  • Patriots: 3-5 (including 0-1 in 2018)
  • Chiefs: 6-2 (including 1-1 in 2018)

Not only is Blakeman officiating his second AFC Championship game in a row, but he was also the official for Super Bowl 50. For the AFC title game, he'll be joined by umpire Bryan Neale, down judge Dana McKenzie, field judge Terry Brown, line judge Kent Payne, side judge Brad Freeman and back judge Greg Meyer.

For information on the NFC title game officiating crew and the Rams ugly record with that game's referee, be sure to click here

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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