SBD/April 17, 2017/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Begins Search For Blandino Replacement; NFLRA Hopes Next Hire Has Ref Experience

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Blandino is expected to venture into some form of NFL broadcasting
The NFL has a "handful of possible approaches" for replacing Senior VP/Officiating Dean Blandino, who resigned from his post late last week, according to Mike Florio of PRO FOOTBALL TALK. The league "could elevate Blandino’s current No. 2: officiating supervisor Al Riveron, a former referee." The league could also "promote someone else from the officiating department" or "elevate someone from its small army of game officials." The last time an established VP/Officiating "left the league office, the NFL promoted game official Carl Johnson to succeed Mike Pereira." The league also could "split the job up, hiring someone to run the officiating department and someone else to serve as the person who oversees replay review and communicates the rules decisions to the public" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 4/14). ESPN's Adam Caplan said the NFL is "considering a bunch of people" to replace Blandino, but the league does not know yet "who that would be." Caplan: "You've got to have someone who could handle this job and the pressure that you get each and every day. Not just from the league which is enormous, from the media. The scrutiny that this person will have with this job is enormous” (“NFL Insiders,” ESPN, 4/14).

SOMEONE FROM THE INSIDE: USA TODAY's Tom Pelissero reported NFL Referees Association Exec Dir Scott Green "hopes the league’s next head of officiating has experience Blandino didn’t." Green said, "We definitely would like to see someone who’s been in the NFL, on the field." Blandino, who is "expected to enter broadcasting, was promoted" in February '13 after 15 years in the NFL’s officiating department. He had also "been an instant replay official and director of the league’s instant replay program." But he had "never called a game on the field." Green acknowledged that "losing Blandino’s expertise in replay could cause issues, particularly as the NFL moves to a centralized replay system." However, Green said hiring a former official to the post Blandino will leave next month would make a difference in terms of "understanding the relationship to the membership" (USATODAY.com, 4/14). PFT’s Mike Florio said, “They definitely want someone who has been an official. That's one of the beefs that the officials have had with Dean Blandino -- he was never an official, so how can he supervise officials when he was never an official?" ("PFT,” NBCSN, 4/17).

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: THE MMQB's Peter King reports if the NFL knew Blandino was leaving, there is a "strong chance owners would not have voted for centralized replay last month." A "big part of voting for centralized replay was because of the strength of Blandino, and how good a media face he was for officiating." Blandino had "earned the trust of the league, and the officials." Three prominent club officials over the weekend said that they "hadn’t heard about Blandino and TV until they heard the news Friday." The NFL's Competition Committee also was "blindsided by the news." Now, there is "no logical person to take his place," and NFL execs "have a big problem on their hands." This job "requires a public figure comfortable in front of the camera and on social media" (MMQB.SI.com, 4/17). ESPN’s Ed Werder said the timing of Blandino’s resignation is questionable “coming so close to him having been given unprecedented authority in making the replay decision in every game in every call that’s ... under review.” ESPN's Bill Polian said Blandino is the "world's best replay official, and replay has been changed dramatically with now the New York office having the ability to make the final decision on all replays." Polian: "Without him there, and his expertise both in the operation of and the decision-making involved in replay, it's going to be a little bit of a rocky ride in the early going” ("NFL Insiders," ESPN, 4/14). 

WHERE TO DRAW THE LINE: Green said that officials are "bearing the unwanted burden of drawing the line" on celebration penalties, and would "rather have the league discipline the player in his wallet, not his team on the field." Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio yesterday, Green said, "Nothing is worse than someone going 80 yards for a touchdown and then we’re trying to figure out does that warrant a flag for what he’s doing in the end zone. We don’t really enjoy that" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/17).
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