For­mer NFL of­fi­cial now the top NFL of­fi­cial

Al­berto Riveron replaces Dean Blandino

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - MATT BONESTEEL

The NFL tabbed Al­berto Riveron to re­place Dean Blandino as its new di­rec­tor of of­fi­ci­at­ing Wed­nes­day, giv­ing the league and its of­fi­cials some­thing of a win-win: The NFL gets con­ti­nu­ity as it pre­pares to cen­tral­ize its in­stant-re­play sys­tem for next sea­son — Riveron was Blandino’s chief lieu­tenant — while the ref­er­ees’ union gets some­one with ac­tual game ex­pe­ri­ence at the job. Un­like Blandino, Riveron was an NFL of­fi­cial from 2004 to 2013 be­fore his pro­mo­tion to the league of­fice. The league is hop­ing that Riveron’s time as Blandino’s top as­sis­tant will make the tran­si­tion easy, though one of the chief re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the job is any­thing but: The NFL’s head of of­fi­ci­at­ing is the per­son who has to take phone calls on Mon­day morn­ings from coaches who felt the whis­tles didn’t go their way the pre­vi­ous day. “As one league of­fi­cial ex­plained, it wasn’t un­com­mon for a fu­ri­ous coach to call 345 Park Av­enue on a Mon­day morn­ing and hang up 10 min­utes later sat­is­fied af­ter talk­ing to Blandino,” MMQB’s Al­bert Breer wrote ear­lier this month. Riveron, who im­mi­grated from Cuba when he was 5 years old and was the first NFL ref­eree of His­panic de­scent, also will be the pub­lic face of the NFL’s ref­er­ees. In other words, the one who has to ex­plain to ev­ery­one why a call was made or why one wasn’t. Per the NFL, Al­berto Riveron will serve as the con­duit to fans and me­dia re­gard­ing of­fi­ci­at­ing de­ci­sions and rules in­ter­pre­ta­tions. “Al has done a ter­rific job as a key mem­ber of our of­fi­ci­at­ing staff for the past four sea­sons,” NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell said in a state­ment. “Prior to that, Al was an out­stand­ing on-field of­fi­cial who earned the re­spect of his fel­low of­fi­cials, as well as coaches and players alike. To have Al lead­ing our of­fi­ci­at­ing de­part­ment, and then to add tal­ented, knowl­edge­able in­stant re­play and of­fi­ci­at­ing ex­perts like Rus­sell and Wayne, is a tremen­dous pos­i­tive for us as we look for­ward to the 2017 sea­son.” But the NFL will make Riveron’s job a lit­tle eas­ier by split­ting up the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that Blandino had. While Riveron takes on the front-fac­ing as­pects of the job, Rus­sell Yurk was named vice-pres­i­dent of in­stant re­play and ad­min­is­tra­tion. It’s a key job, as the NFL’s own­ers voted in March to cen­tral­ize in­stant-re­play calls in the league’s of­fice to make them more ef­fi­cient and con­sis­tent. Rus­sell Yurk, who has spent the past seven sea­sons as an NFL re­play of­fi­cial, will now have fi­nal say in mak­ing those re­play calls, tak­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity out of the hands of ref­er­ees who no longer will be go­ing un­der the hood dur­ing games. Plus, 10-year NFL of­fi­ci­at­ing vet­eran Wayne Mackie will head up the league’s eval­u­a­tion and de­vel­op­ment de­part­ment, which grades of­fi­cials based on their on-field per­for­mance.

FRED­ER­ICK BREEDON, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Al­berto Riveron makes a call in a 2011 game. The NFL has pro­moted Riveron to its head of of­fi­ci­at­ing.

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