I’m old enough to remember when Clete Blakeman was known as the “hot referee.”

When you’re hot, you’re hot. When you’re not, you’re ... an NFL official.

Last week, New England Patriots fans were unhappy that Blakeman, an Omaha resident, was assigned to the AFC championship game — based on experience, they think Blakeman has it in for the poor Pats, who have only won five Super Bowls.

No word what the Pats think of Blakeman after Sunday night’s game, but Chiefs Kingdom was not amused.

It was a rough day for the NFL on Sunday. Two great games. Classics. But the sport is in peril because of officials’ mistakes?

I saw some dropped passes, some bad play-calling by New Orleans coach Sean Payton, and Tom Brady himself even threw a bad interception. Oh, well. You don’t want to talk about the defenses.

I’m not here to defend the referees’ calls. Things happen. But they happen to coaches and players, too. They’re called human beings. This just in: Officials are, too.

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I hate blaming officials for losses. Can’t stand it. It’s lame. For every bad call, there’s a bunch of plays that could have been coached or played better. Saints fans, you could have stopped L.A. twice from driving for field goals — in your dome. And you had the ball first in overtime.

I get it, though. It’s natural to blame the refs. But the overreaction is becoming over the top.

The Washington Post reported early Monday that the NFL is going to consider making pass interference a reviewable play. Really? Over that call? It was bad, but there have been many PI calls throughout history just as bad. Why now?

It cost the Saints the game? No, it didn’t. They had other chances to win after it.

This might be the play that changes a lot of things. An online sports book in New Jersey offered refunds on all wagers on the Saints-Rams game.

It’s all going too far. Reviewing pass interference means more reviews, more second-guessing of officials and more over-officiated games. Can you blame them? They’re afraid to make a mistake. Wonder why.

Now some media types are actually agreeing with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who said a few years ago that every play in football should be reviewable. Coach Hoodie doesn’t want that many challenges. He just wants every play to be open for review, just in case.

We’re going to make a mockery out of instant replay, if we haven’t done so already.

What I agree with is the notion to have officials speak after games and explain their decisions. Giving them a voice would humanize them. That might create more empathy. Then again, as well-known Omaha-based hoops official John Higgins can tell you, it might create a lot of unwanted friends for officials, too.

Blakeman, a former Husker quarterback, has been asked about being one of the TV network rules experts in the future. He still wants to do the work on the field. I’m not sure why. Those guys on TV are never wrong.

  • There was a lot of angst on social media Sunday night about the NFL’s overtime format. Would folks have been just as upset if the Chiefs had won the toss and scored a touchdown on the first drive?
  • Here’s my simple solution: Give each team a possession in overtime. If it’s still tied after that, play until someone scores. It’s not hard. You’re welcome.
  • I’m not one who thinks it’s a big deal that Bill Moos be front and center at Nebraska men’s basketball games. Should the Husker athletic director monitor Husker hoops? Yes. Can he do that by watching games on TV and film? Yes. Would it be great to see his team in person? Of course.

The flip side is the sideshow that Moos would become at games. Everyone knows this is a big year for coach Tim Miles. So all eyes will be on Moos. Is he cheering? If not, why not? Is he standing, sitting, smiling, frowning? Did he leave early? On and on.

Moos spoke loud and clear about how he felt about Husker hoops last spring, when he gave Miles a one-year extension and even that took a while. The A.D. doesn’t need to speak again until after the season. There’s a saying: Actions speak louder than words.

  • Some hearty well-wishes for our old friend Joe Moglia, who announced that he was stepping down as head football coach at Coastal Carolina. Moglia, 69, took a year off in 2017 for health reasons but came back last season. The longtime TD Ameritrade CEO and Omaha resident plans to stay at Coastal as athletic chairman. Moglia was 56-22 in six seasons at Coastal Carolina and took the Chanticleers to the playoffs four times. Good luck, Joe.
  • What in the world? Wichita State basketball is 8-9 overall and 1-4 in the American Athletic Conference, with a NET ranking of 115.
  • This year’s Christ The King Sports banquet has moved from Feb. 25 to March 1, by request of the guest speaker: Nebraska football coach Scott Frost, who had a conflict come up.
  • Felt awful for Chiefs fans but great for Rex Burkhead, the former Husker who scored twice to ice that epic Patriots win. Either Burkhead or his former teammate Ndamukong Suh is going to have a Super Bowl ring in two weeks. What’s the over-under on times Suh will tackle Burkhead? I’m sure we’ll know soon enough.
  • One more and I’m outta here: UNO’s thrilling comeback win over North Dakota might be just the thing to jump-start that young hockey team. It was a great atmosphere at Baxter Arena on Saturday, but I didn’t realize there was a doubleheader. Over on the auxiliary ice, Creighton and Northwestern were playing a club hockey game. Imagine that, UNO and Creighton playing hockey under the same roof at the same time. I didn’t stick around to watch, but the Creighton jerseys looked sweet.

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