SBD/August 11, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Jones Says He Sees No Conflict Of Interest In Blandino "Networking" With Team Officials

Blandino and Stephen Jones reportedly went out for drinks and dinner in L.A.
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said that he did not see any conflict of interest with NFL VP/Officiating Dean Blandino "'networking' with his son Stephen, a member of the NFL's competition committee," according to Clarence Hill Jr. of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Jones yesterday said, "I don't have any problem with it, at all. I don't deem it inappropriate at all. Part of Blandino's job is to network with the clubs in the off-season ... Our bus is an area where were entertain. That's what we do." Blandino last week drew heat after a TMZ video appeared to show him and Stephen Jones partying together, including stepping off a team bus and walking together to a nightclub. Stephen Jones declined to address questions about the night with Blandino after yesterday's practice. He said, "You can ask me about football. Are you serious? Serious?" Jerry Jones added, "I haven’t heard there are any complaints from the league. To my knowledge, there is not" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/11). Jerry Jones talked about the socialization between referees and team execs in a TMZ video Friday night and said, "Really I wouldn’t want to comment on that. But I can say this, our officiating is probably as, I’ll say it’s as great as it’s ever been in my 25 years in the NFL.” He added, "One of the things we do, when we’re not practicing, we entertain a lot. We have a lot of our clients and their guests and that’s just a part of our entertainment with the Cowboys" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/10).

BLANDINO'S STORY: THE MMQB's Peter King reports Blandino's story of events is that he met Stephen Jones for dinner in L.A., after which Jones "suggested they get a drink." Blandino accepted and they "went to a bar and had a drink." Blandino then "parted ways with Jones and others in his party." TMZ got some "shots of several people, including women, through the windows of the Cowboys bus, but Blandino was not among the group at that time." NFL league officials on Saturday indicated that they had received "no complaints about Blandino’s behavior." King writes he is "fine with Blandino dining (and wining, to some degree) with key team officials; it’s part of the job." King: "But I’d draw the line at late-night beering or club-hopping. ... If I’m Roger Goodell, I’m telling Blandino: Dinner fine, revelry beyond that not so fine" (, 8/11). Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said the NFL "doesn't care" about the Blandino situation because he "goes to every city, gets on a party bus in every city." ESPN's Israel Gutierrez said, "In the grand scheme, I think it's nothing. I don't think any team or particular people are going to benefit from it. In terms of perception, I think it's absolutely something." Gutierrez said there are "certain relationships where you want to foster … relationships." However, in "this particular one, where it's officials and teams, nothing can be gained by making it that personal" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/8).

GIVES THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY: In Dallas, David Moore noted Stephen Jones and Blandino are "respected throughout the league" and no one has "come close to suggesting the professional ethics of either should be called into question." But the "appearance of impropriety doesn’t require impropriety to take place." This "doesn’t play well in the public arena, and the Cowboys’ competitors are only too happy to snipe from the weeds and raise doubts" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/9). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said, "There are a lot of traits you want in your vice president of officiating, but probably the No. 1 trait is judgment. You want good judgment for this person. This shows horrific judgment. ... It shows poor judgment about his perception around the league. The league has got to do something about this" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/8). CBS Sports Network's Jim Rome: “The one guy who's supposed to be completely unbiased is partying with the Cowboys so brazenly he might as well been rocking a Tony Romo jersey and had a Cowboys cheerleader on either arm. I can't wait to see him doing body shots in Dan Snyder's pool and on Jeffrey Lurie's jet” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 8/8).
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