Can Long Island’s Dean Blandino help the XFL thrive?
With the XFL expecting to start in less than a month, Vince McMahon is doing everything he can to make the league as legitimate as possible. Unlike its run in 2001, there has been enough time to come up with plans that can help save it. Vince and company have done everything, like signing football stars from the NFL or college and by hiring legitimate football figures. A key asset when it comes to the latter is Dean Blandino.
Who exactly is Dean Blandino? The Hofstra University graduate comes to the XFL after years of exposure to the NFL. Hired as an intern in the 90’s, Blandino was assigned to help innovate the league’s instant replay system in 1999. He managed the program for six years while serving as a replay official for two Super Bowls. He left the NFL to start a replay official training business, but returned in 2012 and became the Vice President of Officiating in 2013.
As you can tell, his resume speaks for itself when talking about the rules of the game. So why did the XFL hire him? Could it be because he helped the XFL become a better product? It might also be because he used that same knowledge to become the director of instant replay for the NCAA and an officiating consultant for the AAF. When he enters a room, or in this case arena, his presence brings value.
With the new rules of the XFL requiring an emphasis on fast replay rules to shorten time, many are wondering how that can work. Chaos can erupt if the slightest thing goes wrong. Blandino will need to use all of his skills in order to get it all right.
“He (Blandino) responds to every call,” stated coach Jeff Fisher in a past interview with ESPN. “He tells the truth; we were right, we were wrong, I disagree, I can see. He’s very truthful in his answers.”
Of course, there will be some backlash coming his way, as is expected with the new XFL. Some of the rules can be confusing, and the officiating will be key in all of this. Practice squads are on display to showcase the new rules, fixing any bugs that may come up. Blandino’s innovative ways will be heavily used during this time, as well as his objectivity. He was hired by the NFL twice to smooth things over. The XFL is the perfect science experiment for him.
“There was a very strong feeling,” says former Colts President Bill Polian to ESPN, “that it was necessary for someone with really good communication skills to be out there every week refuting a lot of the conspiracy theories and a lot of the incorrect application of the rules that go on on a regular basis now in today’s society.”
When the XFL returns on February 8, Blandino will be extremely busy. The hands-on 48-year-old from Bellmore, NY begins a new journey that will test all that he knows. The XFL will rely on him, among others, to lead it towards the promised land. Can lightning successfully strike once again?
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