Not calling defensive holding (and maybe worse) against Dallas ruined the Cowboys' 2014 wild-card win against the Lions. The league's chief of officiating explained the matter the next day and admitted to one error.
No one provides public transparency for the league now. It doesn't even try. After Dean Blandino left for Fox, the NFL lost interest in explaining contentious calls to the media and fans.
Blandino quit the NFL because, as he has maintained, the league undervalues the position. That's polite for "They're too damn cheap." Blandino might have given media interviews after the recent Lions-Cowboys issue if he were still employed by the league. Blandino could have addressed the Lions' claim that referees studied their two-point play before the game in his official capacity.
It's not about officials knowing the play. Officials knew of the pre-snap attempt to deceive the Cowboys about which of three linemen were eligible. The Lions haven't stated they examined the pre-snap shell game with officials. We questioned Blandino if officials would ever allow a team to deceive the defense about which linemen are eligible.
"If a coach told officials that, the officials would tell them they couldn’t do it," Blandino. "The referee would never go along with that and would make sure the defense knew exactly who was reporting."
Coach Dan Campbell's claim that he reviewed the play with referees is irrelevant. What happened before the play caused the issue. The Lions undoubtedly did not tell officials about that strategy. The ploy to mislead the Cowboys also puzzled the referees.
A league employee like Blandino could have quickly and efficiently gotten to the heart of the matter by appearing on Sunday morning pregame shows, weekday programs and podcasts, or shooting a video for social media.
Instead, the idea that referees erred or that the league is "against" the Lions has spread. That wouldn't have been entirely neutralized if the NFL had triggered Blandino's bat signal, but the spread of stories showing the greatest weakness in the insistence that officials evaluate the play would have helped.
Returning to a point I've made before and will continue. Blandino should return to the NFL to explain all controversial calls consistently and thoroughly. Blandino's rule expertise and unique ability to speak clearly and persuasively should be valued by the NFL. Its worth? Given the NFL's profits and Commissioner salary, $10 million per year seems acceptable.