Football Zebras™

Dean Blandino quits NFL for television

Dean Blandino, the senior vice president of officiating, will be stepping down on May 31 to take a job as a television analyst, as first reported by Aditi Kinkhabwala and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. All teams received the information in a memo early this morning.

It is unclear which network Blandino would be working for, but notably CBS has been without a rules analyst since they parted ways with Mike Carey prior to last season.

The announcement is not a shock within officiating circles, only its abruptness is. There have been overtures of a possible leap to television for over a year. Football Zebras was looking into the possibility that Blandino was leaving for a television job back in January when two on-field officials were interviewed in New York for a vacancy that did not exist.

In 2016, Blandino was promoted from vice president to senior vice president. The league office declined to detail the change in title, which it started using publicly at the owners meetings last year. Sources say the elevated title and salary was a counteroffer to Blandino apparently being lured by ESPN to be a rules analyst for their college football coverage. Those sources said this bought the NFL some time to groom a replacement, because, as one official said, “They aren’t going to pay him TV money.”

Blandino’s replacement will be the third head of officiating since Mike Pereira stepped down in 2009 to (indirectly) create now-ubiquitous role of rules analyst. This position has traditionally been the harbinger of stability, as there were three officiating czars from 1968 through 2009.

As Kinkhabwala points out in her tweet, the league moved the decision for replay reviews from the referee to the officiating department’s command center, with Blandino mentioned as the point person with two other senior staff to assist. This will now be placed on the person who replaces Blandino, unless the owners decide to postpone the approved rule change at their spring meetings.

Blandino will oversee the officiating department’s transition to the 2017 season, which happens on May 15. Prior to that date, the league does not communicate with its officials per its collective bargaining agreement. On May 15, the officials will get their crew assignments, information on the two offseason clinics, the text of the new rules, and the first written test of the season. The first clinic will be held at the end of May, and the July clinic will be helmed by Blandino’s successor.

The memo sent to the teams from executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent says that the league “has had several outstanding candidates already express their interest” in the position.

Update, 12 p.m. ET

Pro Football Talk has a source saying that Fox Sports is looking to hire Blandino, teaming him with Pereira, with the possibility that one would be on-site with (presumably) Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the top game of the week.

Update, 11:07 a.m. ET

Conflicting reports that Blandino is headed to CBS.

Full text of the memo from Troy Vincent posted by ESPN’s Adam Schefter is below:

TO: Chief Executives, Presidents, General Managers, Head Coaches

FROM: Troy Vincent

DATE: April 14, 2017

SUBJECT: Dean Blandino

Senior Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino has informed me that he will be leaving the NFL to pursue other opportunities.

As a longtime NFL employee and the head of our Officiating Department since 2013, Dean has done an outstanding job leading our officiating staff. He has been a trusted colleague and a friend to so many of us around the league. Dean’s knowledge of the playing rules, his tireless commitment to improving the quality of NFL officiating, and his unquestioned dedication to his job has earned him the respect of the entire football community. We thank Dean for his many contributions and wish him the very best in his future endeavors.

Dean will be with us until at least the end of May, and the search for his successor is underway. We are fortunate to have had several outstanding candidates already express their interest and I am confident that we will find another terrific leader for our Officiating Department in the very near future.

Please contact me with any questions.

 

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