Football Zebras
NewsAl Riveron retires as senior VP of officiating

Al Riveron retires as senior VP of officiating

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Al Riveron, the senior vice president of officiating for the past 7 seasons has retired from the NFL, according to reporting from the NFL Network.

Riveron was elevated to senior vice president in 2017 after the departure of Dean Blandino in that role. In 2020, the league hired two other men — former referee Walt Anderson and former coach Perry Fewell — into other senior vice-president roles in the officiating department, handling development/training and administration respectively. Riveron’s role was marginalized to solely the replay functions in the 2020 season, while Anderson largely assumed a large chunk of responsibility over the officials and Fewell anchored in departmental functions, union engagement, and coach communication.

Because of his diminished role, many saw the handwriting on the wall that Riveron was on a path to being squeezed out of the NFL leadership. The timing, though — just hours prior to the first preseason game — is what has surprised many, including officials who were unaware of the news until it broke. Officiating sources have told Football Zebras that Riveron was not present during the annual officiating clinic in Dallas last month, and had limited involvement via videoconferencing.

Russell Yurk, the vice president of replay, is expected to run the centralized replay functions this season. Anderson would likely be present in the replay command center to handle concurrent or challenging replay reviews. Riveron’s retirement likely means that Yurk reports directly to Anderson, who is now in charge of all nonadministrative aspects of officiating.

Riveron was born in Cuba and became the first Hispanic NFL referee in 2008. He started in the NFL as a side judge in 2004, working on crews headed by Gerry Austin and Ed Hochuli. He moved off the field after the 2012 season into the newly created senior director position. While not acknowledged by the league, the move apparently was to give Blandino, who had never officiated a football game outside of replay assignments, an adviser with on-field experience. Riveron was on the field for the 2011 AFC Championship between the Patriots and Ravens, 3 divisional playoffs, and a wild card game. During the 2014 AFC Championship game, Riveron made an executive decision (which was separately decided by Football Operations staff as well) to check the air pressure of the footballs at halftime when the Colts alleged that the Patriots had intentionally deflated their game ball supply in the Deflategate incident.

Riveron declined to be interviewed for this report.

Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

2 thoughts on “Al Riveron retires as senior VP of officiating

  1. About damn time. He should have been fired after his first year in the VP role. Good riddance.

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