After serving a suspension for not recognizing a clock malfunction occurred, side judge Rob Vernatchi will be interviewed by the league office as part of the investigation into the clock error. (The league avoided the use of the word “suspension” in its statement.)
Football Zebras has learned that the interview will be conducted today in Sacramento by NFL Security. A representative of the referee’s union is expected to be in attendance, although this is not confirmed, as the union has not responded to multiple attempts for comment.
Vernatchi’s duties include the supervision of the game clock. The stadium clock — operated by a local, league-hired employee with officiating experience — reflects the official time, but the side judge must monitor that it is operated correctly. After a kickoff resulted in a touchback in the Steelers-Chargers game, 18 seconds ran off the clock, presumably inadvertently. The interview, an officiating source said, is to ascertain that it was, in fact, inadvertent, although there has been no indication that it was otherwise.
Vernatchi’s suspension was with pay, presumably to forestall an intervention from the union. Side judge Scott Edwards filled in on referee Pete Morelli’s crew this weekend. The league stated that it was evaluating any disciplinary action against the clock operator before the next San Diego home game.