Dean Blandino, Fox Sports’ Rules Guru, Is a Former Stand-Up

Dean Blandino, Fox Sports’ Rules Guru, Is a Former Stand-Up

“Once again, Dean, you’re right.”

As evidenced by NFL and college telecasts every weekend, even announcers who call football for a living don’t always understand the nuances of the game’s extensive rulebooks. That’s why Fox employs Dean Blandino, the NFL’s former VP of officiating, as its rules guru to break down the nuances of referee calls for viewers and occasionally call out the guys in stripes. 

Sounds like a sweet gig. What kind of experience does a guy need to land a job like that? In Blandino’s case, apparently, it helps to have “stand-up comedian” on the ole’ resume. 

Was Blandino funny? The Athletic calls him “an under-the-radar entertainer” (read into that what you will) who yukked it up at comedy clubs in the 1990s. While interning with the NFL, he met quadruple-threat Val Gamble, an actress, comic, rapper and NFL employee who thought Blandino’s impromptu “Ice Ice Baby” dances were pretty fun and invited him to try stand-up.

Blandino worked it out at well-known venues like Carolines on Broadway, Gotham Comedy Club and the New York Comedy Club, and at least according to Gamble, he was pretty good. We’ll take her word for it, but we’re still trying to imagine the Sage of Sideline Infractions telling jokes in the vein of his cited influences: Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Eddie Murphy, and Redd Foxx

Fox color analyst Moose Johnston, a failed comic himself (he didn’t understand that he was supposed to tell jokes at Emmitt Smith’s roast and was mad when other people did), was pretty pumped when he heard about Blandino’s influences: “Can you imagine Dean dropping a little of George Carlin and Redd Foxx at the same time, a combo during a rules description? That would be tremendous.”

We agree! And if Fox would agree to cut to a full-body shot, we wouldn’t mind seeing a Vanilla Ice dance either. Yo, VIP, let’s kick it — out of bounds on a kick-off, resulting in a five-yard penalty. First down! 

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