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Vinovich to return to field as referee

Football exclusive

Bill Vinovich walked off the field after the 2006 season, sidelined by a heart condition. Sunday, he returns to the field to officiate the Lions-Eagles game.

A source with knowledge of the assignments has told Football that Vinovich is serving as a substitute official this season, and he will head Scott Green’s crew this Sunday.

Bill Vinovich will return to the field as a referee for the first time since the 2006 season. (Photo courtesy Reno Football Officials Camp)

Vinovich joined the NFL in 2001 as a side judge.   He was made a referee in 2004 and worked a wild card game as a referee after the 2006 season.   In the offseason that year, Vinovich was working out on a treadmill and felt severe back pain.   Thinking he injured himself while working out, he went to the doctor where he was told his life was in danger due to an  aortic aneurysm.   Doctors were able to treat his heart condition, but advised him that officiating games was too dangerous, so he was forced to end his officiating career. (Vinovich also officiated NCAA Division I basketball games and worked in the NCAA tournament.)

After leaving the field, Vinovich served as an NFL observer, where he attended games and scouted and graded NFL officiating crews each Sunday since 2007.  

Apparently, the doctors now have given Vinovich a clean bill of health, and he has been cleared to resume officiating.

John Parry was promoted to referee after Vinovich’s departure. Parry was the highest rated referee last season, as he headed the crew that officiated the Super Bowl.

An NFL spokesman declined to comment, citing the longstanding policy to not disclose officiating assignments prior to the day of kickoff.

Ben Austro contributed to this report.

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Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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13 thoughts on “Vinovich to return to field as referee

  1. With Vinovich added to the referee list, does this mean we will have another referee drop? or will we just we have another referee with an off week?

  2. Haven’t been able to confirm that. Vinovich is in for Scott Green who had an injury last season, so maybe he doesn’t feel 100%. Purely speculative. We do know that Vinovich was listed as a “swing” official (i.e., substitute) when the lockout ended.

  3. When I was inhigh school many years ago, my friend’s father, Bill Vinovich was a football and basketball referee. Could this Bill Vinovich be his grandson? I grew up in Midland, Pa in the Pitts area.

  4. I went to high school with Bill Vinovich in Anaheim Hills, CA. Class of 1979. So cool to see him officiating!

  5. @ mollie hall As far as I know, Bill has always been a California resident, so I don’t know about the relation to the western-Pennsylvania Bill Vinovich. It’s possible though.

  6. Yes, Bill Vinovich II grew up in Midland, PA. His son, Bill Vinovich III is the NFL referee (#52). They are my Uncle & cousin. Interestingly, my Grandfather, Bill Vinovich Sr. was a long-time official in Beaver County sports…his legacy was carried on by my Uncle, who also is an official in the college ranks and now my cousin (NFL). There is a 4th generation Bill Vinovich IIII, my cousin’s son, but he is currently not involved in officiating. Look for him to one day be a sports agent, as he is attending Marquette University for Law.

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