Is Dean Blandino's Party Night With Cowboys' Stephen Jones A Blow To NFL's Integrity?
Execs from several NFL clubs "expressed extreme disappointment and anger at a TMZ video that appears to show" league VP/Officiating Dean Blandino "out for a night of partying" in L.A. with Cowboys COO & Exec VP Stephen Jones, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSPORTS.com. Blandino "appears to be among a group of males and females captured stepping off the Jones' Cowboys-themed party bus and toward a club where paparazzi awaited outside." Several "expressed concern at the appearance of potential competitive balance issues, given the sensitive nature of Blandino's role and his authority on matters of officiating and interpretation." Two spokespersons "declined to say anything for the record." But no one "came close to denying it was Blandino in the video, and the league could point out that with Jones on the competition committee, it's not unusual for him to spend considerable time with competition committee members." Blandino has "done an excellent job in his position, and is engaged and dynamic." At issue is the "perception of potential favoritism by other clubs, and the way these images are being perceived around the league" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/7). The NATIONAL FOOTBALL POST's Joe Fortenbaugh asks, "Have the Dallas Cowboys been receiving preferential treatment from Blandino due to the nature of his apparently close relationship with Stephen Jones? Has Jones lavished Blandino with gifts in the hopes of buying some goodwill within the league office?" Perhaps we are "reading too deeply into a situation that is nothing more than two colleagues sharing a beer together." But the "fact of the matter is that questions are now being asked as to whether there is something going on here that isn’t exactly aboveboard." As a result, the NFL’s "corruption-free image has suffered a blow" (NATIONALFOOTBALLPOST.com, 8/8).