Dean Blandino Feb 7, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Dean Blandino at Fox Sports media day at the Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, ESPN writer Kevin Seifert published a list of potential innovations that the NFL could work off of that the XFL has either adopted or entirely installed into their games. Among them was transparency on the broadcast for the game officials.

Over time, broadcasts have somewhat made improvements. The Mike Pereiras and Gene Steratores of the world now occupy the broadcast space as rules analysts. Dean Blandino, the former VP of Officiating for the NFL from 2013-2017, was among those with that title before the XFL hired him as their head of officiating in 2020. Fox previously hired Blandino as their rules expert, a position he held from 2017-2020.

Blandino explained to Seifert one key ingredient to this process: The levels of transparency. As someone who worked in the NFL office, Blandino and his perspective are probably worth noting. So when he said that he doesn’t think the NFL would want the same levels of transparency that the XFL provides, it’s a worthwhile sound byte.

Blandino, who appeared weekly on NFL Network to explain decisions when he was the league’s officiating chief from 2013 to ’17, said he didn’t think the NFL wants the level of transparency the XFL provides.

“I’ve lived it,” Blandino said. “I was with the NFL for a long time. Fans, coaches, they get the ruling and the announcement, but they don’t understand the ‘why.’ I think that transparency can help. I don’t think the league under the current setup would want to broadcast everything. I just feel like it’s not something they’re interested in. But I do think the transparency, if there was a way for the league to explain calls even after the fact in a more complete way than just sending out a tweet to say the ruling on the field stood because it wasn’t clear and obvious, then I think that would be beneficial.”

NFL broadcasts receive plenty of criticism for many reasons. If you listen and trust what Blandino says when it comes to officiating, that might as well be by design.

It’s more than a bit disappointing, if so. The NFL could certainly get ahead of the curve by having significantly boosted transparency. Everybody and their mother will always complain about officiating. “Last 2 Minutes” reports in the NBA rarely do anything to ease anything. Elsewhere, the NHL’s officiating finds itself scrutinized often. Let’s not get started with MLB umpiring, either.

Most of the time, the silly rules and interpretations mislead the audience or make them feel misled.

The one thing that, time and time again, has proven to be the greatest equalizer is not to fake it with your audience. People like honesty and will always value it, no matter what. Blandino’s belief suggests that the NFL won’t cozy up to that level with their fans every Sunday.


About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022