Earlier in the week, TMZ released a video of Jerry Jones's son Stephen partying with several people, including what appears to be Dean Blandino, the NFL's head of officiating. According to at least one person Jason La Canfora spoke to in the league, that is "definitely" him in the blue, skipping out of a Dallas Cowboys party bus.
On first blush, the video is not all that interesting. It's just Stephen Jones and his entourage hanging out with several women on a bus with a bunch of Cowboys logos on it on the Sunset Strip. NFL executives are livid, however, because Blandino is looking so chummy with a team executive and owner's son.
The quotes from Canfora are from executives around the league, none of whom are within the NFC East, and they are all pissed about the perception of impropriety. No one outright accused anyone of bad faith, just the idea of it is enough. And while there are certainly reasons why the NFL's head of officiating might be seen eating and socializing with team executives on business, this does not appear to be one of those times. I mean, Jay Glazer isn't even on his phone.
Here's a sampling of the outrage:
"That's definitely Dean," said an official with one club... "Is the league trying to tell you it's not him? What is the league telling you guys about it? That looks horrible. I can't think of another owner in the league who wouldn't be pissed off after seeing that."
"So, should I have my owner take him to a strip club when he visits us?" asked one team official, hypothetically. "Is that how it works? We like Dean a lot, but let me tell you, if that was him out with (the owner of a rival of the club this official works for), my owner would be going nuts. This just can't happen.
"It's total hypocrisy. This is a league where some people are above the law, but if you are a coach or a player or a low-level team employee, look out — they'll throw the book at you. They take away your pension. I'll give Stephen credit, at least they took a bus. (Colts owner Jim) Irsay should have got a bus a long time ago. Have they gotten around to disciplining him yet?"
" There shouldn't be any situation like this going on that could cloud his judgment. How is this protecting the shield? The league loves to throw that term around when it applies to players. So how is this not an issue now?"
That last one is a very interesting question. The NFL has not commented on the matter.