The first hire under the leadership of the new vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino, has brought Alberto Riveron into the league office as senior director of officiating. Adam Schefter reported the hire Tuesday morning.
Riveron was in New York City in January to, presumably, interview for the vice-president position, when Carl Johnson announced that he was stepping down after the Super Bowl. The job eventually went to Blandino, who previously served as one of the directors of officiating and served as the head of replay operations.
Riveron’s last game was the wild card playoff between the Bengals and the Texans at the end of his ninth NFL season and fifth at the referee position. Riveron, born in Havana, Cuba, became the first Hispanic referee in the league when he was promoted from side judge by then-vice president Mike Pereira in 2008. Before the NFL, Riveron officiated in Conference USA and the Big East.
It is most likely that Bill Vinovich will be assigned to his own crew for the 2013 season. Vinovich returned to the NFL this past season after missing five years due to health problems. He was a “swing” official this past year, meaning he worked as a referee on different crews each week. Carl Johnson will return to the field as the NFL’s first full-time official; Johnson was previously a line judge,
but no decision on Johnson’s field position has been announced.
The senior director of officiating is not a position that existed before, according to the NFL Record and Fact Book. This might be due to the union’s insistence that officials are only graded by people who have on-field NFL experience. Because Blandino has only worked in the replay operation, and has never officiated on the field, he could not make decisions on grading without a change to common practices. With this promotion, the league could place Riveron in charge of grading â€” a process which came under scrutiny this season.
Riveron will report to Blandino who reports to the executive vice president of football operations, Ray Anderson.
Mark Schultz contributed to this report.
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Here’s the text of the NFL’s press release:
NFLâ€™S FIRST HISPANIC REFEREE TO JOIN NFL OFFICIATING DEPARTMENT
Alberto Riveron, a nine-year veteran NFL game official and the leagueâ€™s first Hispanic referee, has been named NFL senior director of officiating.
Riveron will report to Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino. As the number-two person in the department, Riveron will supervise multiple aspects of the NFLâ€™s officiating operations.
Among his responsibilities, Riveron will oversee the NFL Instant Replay Program and assist Blandino in assignment and evaluation of officials, assigning individual officials to crews and crews to games, overseeing the evaluation process of officials and crews, and developing and distributing weekly training videos and other materials to improve accuracy and consistency. Riveron will join Blandino in working closely with the NFL Competition Committee to develop proper on-field officiating practices for rule changes and â€œpoints of emphasisâ€.
â€œAl did a tremendous job as a referee and was quickly able to earn the respect of the players and coaches,â€ Blandino said. â€œHis on-field experience will be an asset for us as we strive to improve the consistency and quality of our officiating program.â€
Riveron made his NFL debut as a side judge in 2004 before being promoted to referee in 2008, earning the distinction as the NFLâ€™s first Hispanic referee. He officiated in six playoff games, including serving as the referee in the AFC Championship Game between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots following the 2011 season. Riveronâ€™s final on-field assignment was as the referee for the Wild Card playoff game this past season between the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans.
A native of Cuba, Riveron moved to Miami at age five with his family and developed a passion for the game. He began as an official in local youth leagues in 1977. He made his collegiate officiating debut in 1990, working primarily in the Big East and Conference USA before joining the NFL officiating ranks.
Since 2004, Riveron has worked as an assistant to the Conference USA supervisor of officials, aiding in the grading, training and evaluation of the conferenceâ€™s on-field officials. Riveron, who spent 13 years as a program coordinator in the Miami-Dade County public schools, has been in a managerial position with the Florida Storm Panel Corporation since 1993, coordinating the companyâ€™s work force throughout South Florida and overseeing production schedules, installations and marketing.
Riveron will be based at league headquarters in New York and begin his new role immediately.
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