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EXTENDED INTERVIEW: 'Hot ref' Clete Blakeman

Posted at 2:14 PM, Feb 11, 2016

The Super Bowl referee who gained Internet fame as the "hot ref" stopped by KMTV's studios Thursday.

Clete Blakeman, an Omaha native, talked about how he became a NFL referee and what it was like at the Super Bowl.

Watch the whole interview in the video player above and KMTV Action 3 News at 10 for a look back at the Super Bowl’s “hot ref” buzz.

“It started as my first year in law school. I finished playing, of course. My last season at Nebraska was in 1987, and then next year I was in law school.  I started working high school football with my dad at that time, not knowing other than just to go out on a Friday night and just be with my dad a little bit.”

“I started working at high school games, liked doing it, kind of came into my blood a little bit. And then, I thought, well how about what’s next? Can I work college football? And then, that progressed and progressed and got into college football. And then it was, can I work in division one college football? Same kind of thing. Ultimately, the NFL kind of came into the picture as I was traveling down that road and became a goal and ultimately achieved it.”

“That’s the nature of the internet, I think. The officiating component tied into it, there are all sorts of things that are out of our control, so to speak, and how people are going to perceive things and what they’re going to take from a game, or judge a game that way. We just, I just try to go in, and my crew, we just try to go in and work the game, do the best game that we can do.”

“My plan going in was just that. I had hoped that once we kicked off the game I was, it was going to be worked, handled, managed, just as a regular game. Coming away from it I was pleased that that was kind of how it happened. The lead up to it is so much. The Super Bowl – it’s a spectacular event, number one. And so, just walking the field pre-game, there’s people on the sidelines. There’s movie stars, A-list celebrities. Just the magnitude of the game itself.”

“A couple years ago, we were in a playoff game. I had worked, we were working an early round playoff game in Denver and that’s really kind of when the whole Omaha thing became a buzz. And I had mentioned it to him during that game, so now we kind of joke about every now and then, that he stays involved with that Omaha thing. And I don’t know what it means. I have no idea what it means, I just know that he uses it.”
“It was after the game in the locker room. We were just kind of all settling back in, changing, getting showered up, ready to go. One of the guys, literally, is kind of on his phone. He starts going, ‘Hey, whoa, wait a minute.’ And that’s kind of where it all started from there. I initially thought this is just, it’s no big deal, a couple tweets here and there, kind of thing. And then it just became bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and bigger and until it was pretty, it was something, unexpected. It was pretty unique.”

“There were a handful of them that, as I was kind of scrolling through some of them, that I kind of got a good laugh at, or a good laugh at. There was one from a woman, said something like ‘I want to go to bed, but I don’t want to miss the end of the game if the ref’s going to get doused with Gatorade,” or something like that, too. There was a handful of those that were pretty good.”

“It’s cool. It’s flattering. It’s nice to do and we had fun with it, but I don’t expect its going to have much of a longer life, but who knows?”

Previous coverage: 

Omaha NFL referee gets high marks on Twitter

Omaha man dubbed hot ref is 'enjoying the moment'

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Only on KMTV Action 3 News...we are LIVE with Clete Blakeman...a.k.a "#HotRef"

Posted by KMTV Action 3 News on Thursday, February 11, 2016