“Dean Blandino has informed me that he will be leaving the NFL to pursue other opportunities.”
That’s the opening line of the Friday memo sent by NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent to all NFL chief executives, team presidents, General Managers, and head coaches, a copy of which PFT has obtained.
Blandino will remain with the league until “at least the end of May,” and Vincent said the “search for [Blandino’s] successor is underway.” Vincent adds that “several outstanding candidates already express[ed] their interest,” which strongly implies that this isn’t something that just happened out of the blue.
The league has a handful of possible approaches for replacing Blandino. First, it could elevate Blandino’s current No. 2: officiating supervisor Al Riveron, a former referee. Second, the league could promote someone else from the officiating department. Third, the league could elevate someone from its small army of game officials.
The last time an established V.P. of officiating left the league office, the NFL promoted game official Carl Johnson to succeed Mike Pereira. That move lasted two years, with Johnson returning to a game crew and Blandino taking over.
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. As the importance of the replay function grows, it could make sense to allow that person to focus only on the rules and the proper interpretation and application thereof, with someone else responsible for ensuring that the game officials are properly supervised, graded, and scrutinized.
Regardless, the job has never been more important than it will be in 2017, with the head of officiating for the first time having final say over all replay decisions. It’s plenty of power, and responsibility, for whoever lands in that position.