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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.

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?"