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Dean Blandino: “Human element” should remain part of officiating

Walt Coleman AP

As the NFL continues to use technology to improve officiating, there’s increasing talk that some day the league might put an official in a booth above the field, watching the game on TV, and communicating instantly with the referee on the field without needing to stop the game and look at an instant replay. NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino says that’s possible, but the league will be cautious about it.

Blandino told PFT’s Mike Florio that the NFL might add a booth official beyond the replay assistant who currently helps the referee with replay reviews. But Blandino also believes that the game is meant to have the officials on the field with the players.

“It’s something we’ve discussed, a video official — the Canadian Football League is actually implementing that this year,” Blandino said. “And as the technology gets better, it becomes more feasible. So we just have to continue to monitor that. But we can’t lose that human element. The officials on the field for the most part have the best vantage point. The rules are written in a way to allow for full-speed officiating, and we just have to keep that in mind as we consider these other enhancements.”

NFL fans, however, seem to be growing increasingly wary of the human element in officiating, as the fans at home often have a better view of a play than the official on the field has. Eventually, the league may need to give an official the view the fans have.

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52 Responses to “Dean Blandino: “Human element” should remain part of officiating”
  1. Seprix says: Mar 23, 2016 2:51 PM

    I want refs out there. I really do. But every game, there’s some incredibly biased and completely wrong call out there that could potentially throw the game on its head.

  2. kissmysandwich says: Mar 23, 2016 2:52 PM

    No kidding. You guys need someone to fix your games for you. How about you just start with full-time officials that are athletic and young? That would be a start. Integrity of the game? LOL!!

  3. najacoo22 says: Mar 23, 2016 2:53 PM

    Dean Blandino is a doofus.

  4. jag1959 says: Mar 23, 2016 2:58 PM

    “The human element should remain part of officiating”

    But ultimatly the goal of officiating should resolve to getting the call correct. As far as the human element goes, no one is suggesting putting a robot upstairs. There is no plausible excuse not to do it. Let’s call it what it is, if an official had the same view the fans did there would be no excuse for letting a bad call stand and thereby produce a potentially desired result.

  5. wtfchiefs says: Mar 23, 2016 3:00 PM

    “Human element” is necessary for gambling and fixing games isn’t it Dean-o Blandino? Why else would you openly welcome mistakes?

  6. peytonwantsaflag says: Mar 23, 2016 3:02 PM

    let’s see-

    incomprehensible rules + part time workers + leadership too easily influenced by social media + ownership too focused on short term financials (especially a willingness to dabble in daily fantasy) = chaos and eventual ruination of a great sport

  7. hyprcaffeinated says: Mar 23, 2016 3:02 PM

    Yes, they need to be there, but not the same aging men who are obviously having a hard time keeping pace with the younger, faster athletes who come into the NFL every year.

    Some of these officials have been around for 20 years… they slow down, and we all know, training methods improve and the players are in better shape than in 1995. Younger blood is needed in zebra stripes. And make all them full time so they can watch video in the off season and learn to make consistent calls from game to game and week to week.

    Thank you.

  8. musicfootballprogramming says: Mar 23, 2016 3:04 PM

    Now if only they could get the human element back into the front office.

  9. Straight Cash Homie says: Mar 23, 2016 3:05 PM

    I think that most people, myself included, just want the NFL to get the calls right. I don’t care how you get to that point but there should be no excuse for the atrocious officiating that we’ve witnessed the past few seasons. There really were a few games last season where I could have swore replacement refs were still out there officiating.

  10. forthegoodofthegame says: Mar 23, 2016 3:05 PM

    Such a politician, and a bad one too.

    How about this Blandino: When games are decided by officials and not players, it is breach of contract for all ticket sales to each game. Maybe the NFL should start owning the tickets to these “human element” games.

  11. gtrav says: Mar 23, 2016 3:10 PM

    The “Human Element” responsible for making egregious officiating mistakes last year? Makes sense Dean-o Blandino

  12. edgarpoe3 says: Mar 23, 2016 3:10 PM

    In other words, getting the call correct is secondary to adding the “human element” to it. On top of that officials are seldom held accountable for the wrong calls. Adding the “human element” sound as bit fishy to me.

  13. romosmicrodongs says: Mar 23, 2016 3:13 PM

    Dean Blandino: “Please don’t eliminate my job from existence”

  14. stellarperformance says: Mar 23, 2016 3:13 PM


    In this day and age, why do we need “the human element?”

    The sooner we take advantage of any and all technological advances, the better the game will become.

    Put sensors in the tips of the ball that measures EXACTLY how far the ball was advanced. If a player breaks a beam, you KNOW he was offsides or not.

    The ideas are limitless.

    Canada has a booth official? DUH!!!

    College ball enables both teams to touch the ball? DUH!!!

    Get with it NFL.

  15. delhommed says: Mar 23, 2016 3:15 PM

    Super Bowl was fixed by the “human element”

  16. collectordude says: Mar 23, 2016 3:20 PM

    It’s time the NFL made all their officials full-time.

  17. paulrevereshorse1775 says: Mar 23, 2016 3:21 PM

    We’re NFL customers, not fans, CUSTOMERS!

  18. grogantomorgan says: Mar 23, 2016 3:21 PM

    This statement by Mr.Blandino is like saying games will continue to be impacted by incorrect calls.

    Get a clue

  19. idpfantasyfootball says: Mar 23, 2016 3:23 PM

    The push for league parity was such a success that games now hinge on single plays. The time for full time in-game officiating oversight is now!

    Gone are the days where controversial calls were fodder for water cooler discussion. The bad calls are damaging to the league and have financial implications on teams, cities, and players.

    Allow the human element to correct the human elements on the field that are missing calls and making bad calls!

  20. gojags says: Mar 23, 2016 3:23 PM

    We can live with the “Human Element” but not the “Human Influence” or more so “Human Bias”.

    The NFL is moving more towards “Bias”.

    In my honest opinion, NFL wants Jerry Jones to put a hand on the Lombardi trophy. Jerry Jones is doing his best not to put his hand on the Lombardi trophy.

  21. huh6016 says: Mar 23, 2016 3:28 PM

    The NFL is in a downward spiral and the exes are spit-balling to find the answer…. they wont find it because they are to much into policy/procedure not FUN. This game WAS great because it used to be fun/entertaining, now its one delay after another as they try to sort through their ridiculous rules…….

  22. sonhoodoo says: Mar 23, 2016 3:33 PM

    Keep the refs. Get rid of Blandino. Get a guy in there who doesn’t pretend the rules aren’t misunderstood.

  23. theashleyguy says: Mar 23, 2016 3:47 PM

    I like the human element of the refs in there. We can have a replay on every single down, and make the game about 9-10 hours to watch. That will be entertaining.

    Keep the refs. But I do like the idea of them being paid much better, being younger, more athletic, and full-time. In this multi-billion dollar industry, it’s preposterous to have refs who can’t keep up with the players they are supposed to officiate for.

  24. torebear says: Mar 23, 2016 3:49 PM

    The human element seems to be setting up officials to fail.

    With how fast the game is you have to expect that errors will be made. Thats when you use technology as an aid.

  25. Kingmj4891 says: Mar 23, 2016 3:51 PM

    Dean Blandino should be fired.

  26. thebirdofprey says: Mar 23, 2016 3:58 PM

    Dean Blandino couldn’t be more incompetent and every interview or statement he gives takes away credibility from the league. Even if he tells the truth it sounds like a lie.

    I guess he is the perfect cover man if NFL wanted to control outcomes of games.

  27. eddiea25 says: Mar 23, 2016 4:00 PM

    This guy is a clown.Only the NFL would have a guy in charge of officials that never was an official.Bet daddy knew someone.

  28. jeffberk2014 says: Mar 23, 2016 4:01 PM

    For pete’s sake, put a ref upstairs. And add goal line technology like soccer has. Is the NFL really that far behind? Get with it!

  29. kmossg says: Mar 23, 2016 4:06 PM

    Translation: The NFL doesn’t want to loose their ability to influence games

  30. nite2al says: Mar 23, 2016 4:11 PM

    Good thing they don’t use this theory in hospitals.

  31. robadat says: Mar 23, 2016 4:13 PM

    I think having a video review official in the booth who is in contact with the on field officials would be a good move. Let them run it as a test during preseason and then monitor the CFL’s use of it to see if it does help. If it does work, then implement it the next year.

    But before that, let’s get better officiating in place by whatever means neccessary. Currently, there’s very little consistency between crews, they should all be pretty much on the same page across the entire league. What a foul is in one game, should be a foul in all games, shouldn’t be based on which crew is working a particular game…

  32. billmiller1991 says: Mar 23, 2016 4:15 PM

    Absolutely. Many players admit they don’t even try on every play. And the ones who don’t admit it, you can see it with your own eyes. Yet somehow overly sensitive fanboys get worked up when the refs do something they disagree with, or just don’t like. This is not an xbox game, it’s human and necessarily messy.

  33. mrrmiyagi says: Mar 23, 2016 4:17 PM

    Nobody wants the human element. We just want the right calls being made. If there’s enough technology to complete eliminate referees, I’d go with that.

    This is why pro tennis implemented the Hawk-Eye system. No one wants a judgement call by a random person.

  34. stellarperformance says: Mar 23, 2016 4:21 PM

    “Everyone wants the human element to remain in sports.”

    -Ninety-four year-old retired umpire.

  35. seabrawk12 says: Mar 23, 2016 4:40 PM

    Sounds like the Blandino just doesn’t want himself or other zebras to get called out for making a mistake in front of thousands or millions of viewers. Guess what Dean, you still do. Now it just won’t screw over the team that was the victim of your “human element.”

  36. morr24 says: Mar 23, 2016 4:42 PM

    If everything was reviewed there would still be a human element. A person and not a computer is interpreting what is reviewed.

    The NFL should try to limit the impact of the human element to the extent possible and within the bounds of reasonableness. However, there will always be a human element.

    Get the call right and decrease the need to rationalize a mistaken call.

  37. bert1913 says: Mar 23, 2016 4:44 PM

    was this statement transmitted from Jerry Jones party bus?

  38. pastanow says: Mar 23, 2016 4:49 PM

    Human element means I don’t take checks and expect cash in a plain white envelope.

  39. tindeaux says: Mar 23, 2016 4:54 PM

    i would hate to see players played their you-know-what off and have the zebras determined the outcomes of the games.

  40. scw1993 says: Mar 23, 2016 5:00 PM

    Need a commissioner who hands out consequences fairly, league-wide. Why should the refs make correct calls 100% of the time when the suits at 345 Park Avenue play favorites for all to see. The blame for bad officiating, especially last season, should be put in the lap of the guy in charge. Several teams got hosed last year, and it wasn’t just once. The league doesn’t use technology because then they can’t choreograph who wins the games. It all starts at the top.

  41. Mo Pro Babble says: Mar 23, 2016 5:19 PM

    Technology schmechnology,

    we have seen over and over replay officials get it wrong when the entire nation, including ex-refs working for networks can see what really happened. You’l never remove the human element. Before replay existed, we argued ref calls in every sport, nothing has changed.

  42. mysterytonite says: Mar 23, 2016 5:28 PM

    so corrupt the NFL has become, it’s almost as if they have stopped trying to conceal it with this buffoon speaking on their behalf.

  43. dapollock69 says: Mar 23, 2016 6:00 PM

    I’ve yet to hear this jack-wagon admit a call was botched, so technically, the human element has yet to be introduced. Dope.

  44. binarymath says: Mar 23, 2016 6:51 PM

    Folks before Blandino said you need the “human element” to spray paint, weld, assemble, work in hazardous environments, and the hundreds of other things that robots now do – with more precision, accuracy, and repeatability than human beings.

    Blandino sounds like an automotive exec from the 1970’s. Bigger businesses than the NFL have been disrupted by automation.

  45. brawnyhombre says: Mar 23, 2016 7:45 PM

    “But we can’t lose that human element.”

    Sure, try to be like baseball. That’s a proven recipe for remaining the most popular sport in the U.S.

  46. inozwetrust says: Mar 23, 2016 8:15 PM

    Gee I thought the human element was the 22 guys out there knocking heads trying to see who can execute their game plans better. Refs are there to enforce the rules of the game not to become part of the game.

  47. cinzano08 says: Mar 23, 2016 8:22 PM

    A key catch in SB was ruled no catch when all video angles showed no part of ball touched ground. We never got explanation.

  48. cornerstone2001 says: Mar 23, 2016 8:26 PM

    Dont mind the missed calls so much as I do the CORRUPT game fixing calls

  49. riverhorsey says: Mar 23, 2016 8:58 PM

    Blandino says: “But we can’t lose that human element. ”

    Also known as the Vegas element.

    #Pass interference calls will be worse than ever this year.

  50. horses721 says: Mar 23, 2016 11:13 PM

    What Blandino says means nothing. If you don’t have a great QB under today’s NFL, your team has no chance. Goodell only cares about making the billionaire owners even more money! Goodell has done everything he can to benefit fantasy football players and the rule changes that overwhelmingly benefit the offensive side of the game prove it and help support the NFL ratings. Since Goo(BAD)dell has taken office, all changes have benefited the offense because fantasy football does not care about the defensive side of the game and this obvious form of gambling is driving the success of the NFL! If you play fantasy football and your team stinks because your QB is awful, don’t complain. You are part of the problem to people like me that enjoy football without worrying about players fantasy points weekly. I follow my team, not fantasy players. To sum it up, if your team does not have a great QB who can benefit from Goodell’s pro-offense NFL rules, don’t complain if you are a fantasy football player, You are part of the problem. I’m 35 and enjoy the game and don’t need fantasy football GAMBLING to enjoy the game. Unfortunately, Goodell wants to keep doing whatever he can to support fantasy football in the short term without looking at the long term impact it is having on the game. Am I right Mark Cuban??

  51. davefromtheburgh says: Mar 23, 2016 11:46 PM

    I’d prefer to have the human element in the game. Which is to say that I’d rather calls be wrong occasionally, or often, rather than relying on replay. If I were king of the world, I’d get rid of replay altogether. I resist efforts to try and make things more perfect or fair, in a world that is neither perfect nor fair.

  52. jhare2016 says: Oct 17, 2016 2:52 PM

    NO. NO. NO! No. Officiating is the one area where you do NOT want the human element. You want every event that could result in a penalty to be evaluated and decided EXACTLY the same way every time, so it’s FAIR and CONSISTENT. You do NOT want a “human” element like a ref with a headache or a spat with his wife to be deciding games with “human” calls.

    The HUMAN element should be the players and the players alone.

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