Football Zebras™

League reboots search for new VP of refs

It is not exactly America’s Got Talent, but finding the new vice president of officiating is turning out to be one tough audition.

Peter King of SI.com is reporting that the league is restarting its process to find a replacement for current officeholder Mike Pereira. Pereira announced on the NFL Network in January that he would retire at the conclusion of the 2009 season.

The process is definitely taking longer than anticipated. In February, Pereira said his replacement would shadow him through this season.

Pereira took over from Jerry Seeman (then, the position was senior director of officiating) in 2001. Prior to being elevated to the league office, Pereira served as a side judge for only two seasons at the NFL level.

I am not sure that Seeman would be a candidate for the position as it is today. Pereira is now the league’s highest profile executive with a weekly “Official Review” segement on NFL Total Access. This involves presentation skills far more polished than a 10-second announcement over the public-address system. A successful candidate must also navigate and rise above the flood of faux hipness that the network talking heads constantly exude.

While this represents the most visible part of the job, Periera and his staff grade every play of every game from no less than three camera angles. The grades are then computed into a percentage for playoff assignments.

It is unlikely that the league will field a candidate from the current roster of officials, if the new appointee is to shadow Pereira this season. There were five officials that retired in the offseason, including referee Bill Carollo and field judge Duke Carroll.

But, for now the league is back at square one for lining up potential candidates. Perhaps the NFL Network can start a clone of America’s Got Talent, with commissioner Roger Goodell, Pereira, and Goodell’s newest special advisor, John Madden, manning the buzzers.

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