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New officiating leadership team strong and prepared

The new officiating year starts today  and the NFL leadership team is in place  — Al Riveron as senior vice president of officiating, Wayne Mackie as vice president of officiating evaluation and development and Russell Yurk as vice president of replay and administration. Due to the relatively short notice given by Dean Blandino, it is commendable that the NFL was able to hire a fully staffed front office in such a short time. And, the people hired can hit the ground running in terms of experience and logistics.  

Location, location, location

I speculated earlier that the need to move to New York, would be a big reason in determining who would want the job. Riveron has worked at NFL headquarters in New York City since 2013. He knows what goes into the job. The late-stage vacancy may have worked into his favor, since he already knows the front office. Wayne Mackie is actually a resident of New York City, so this represents absolutely no residency challenges. Russell Yurk has to relocate at least on a part-time basis. But, I am sure he and his family are on board.

Skill sets match

Wayne Mackie (Baltimore Ravens photo)

With the three new hires, it is easy to see the skills they bring to the job. Yurk has high school and college officiating experience. He worked has a NFL replay assistant and replay official for seven years. Riveron has been monitoring games from the Art McNally Officiating Command Center since 2013. NFL replay became de facto centralized in 2014; now that the NFL centralized replay  by rule, Riveron, Yurk, and Mackie will be well positioned to work with referees to make decisions in replay.

Yurk has been in NFL replay booths all across the country. He knows the pressures, sticking points and tools needed for all replay situations. As an official, he knows rules and procedures. He is a great person to lead replay officials and set expectations.

Mackie has been a NFL official at the highest level. He called Super Bowl 50. He has missed the playoffs. Mackie understands the grading system. He and Riveron will give credibility in evaluating officials. Mackie is also tasked with developing new officials. Mackie already has experience in mentoring young and aspiring officials, and collaborated with both of his employers, the NFL and the New York City Public Housing Authority, on co-sponsored  amateur officiating clinics. This new position gives Mackie a golden opportunity to mentor the next generation of NFL officials.

We won’t know the final verdict on these hires for several seasons. Every one of Riveron’s predecessors has had to endure rumors that they were on the hot seat because of officiating quality in the NFL. But, on paper, this is a very strong leadership team.

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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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3 thoughts on “New officiating leadership team strong and prepared

  1. Dean and Mike P must’ve been pretty good at what they did because the job has been split and 3 are doing the job that one did in the past. It will be interesting for sure.

  2. Actually, Dean had Al as his deputy the whole time. So, Al now has 2 deputies (which was actually in the works before Dean quit) because they had to have 3 people authorized to make replay decisions with the new rule; plus, the focus on development has, in my opinion, been lacking for years, and this might make up for that.

  3. Development of officials? that process has been going on for a very long time and has been very active and very successful. The NFL for a time was using AFL for developing officials and many of those on crews today come from that program. Also keep in mind, many of the college conferences have NFL officials as their Supervisors. This was the NFL’s way of developing officials for their own needs. College officials are being trained in NFL philosophies and mechanics. Where do you think ole Sarah came from and why she was hired in the first place. The program has been there just not highly profiled. As to what was in the works prior to Dean’s departure most likely so, but before this it was pretty much a 1 man show and now its spread out and needs to be. The one issue will be consistency. Dean made the majority of the decisions on replay
    last year to create consistency, now 3 will be involved and while they will try to be consistent it will not be 100% . Totally a necessary move though in light of Dean’s departure.

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