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Al Riveron returns to the NFL as an officiating liaison to the TV networks

Al Riveron returns to the NFL to assist primetime broadcasts on officiating matters.



While the attention of the day may be on the divorce of Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen, there is news of a quiet reconciliation in the NFL. Former senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron is back with the NFL, as reported by Kalyn Kahler of The Athletic.

According to the report, Riveron will be monitoring the broadcast audio throughout the league’s primetime games, and will be able to contact the production truck and game analysts Terry McAulay (with Amazon and NBC) and John Parry (ESPN) with clarifications. Kahler reports that Gene Steratore, who covers Sunday afternoon broadcasts on CBS, will receive a text from a coordinator on gameday that is his point of contact. The same arrangement certainly exists for Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino at Fox. Riveron’s role will not involve the CBS or Fox games, according to Kahler’s report.

Two sources were able to confirm Riveron’s return to the NFL, but did not have details for us on his role.

The current replay system uses a Hawkeye system, which ingests (or records) several key camera angles from the TV network as well as a couple of league-controlled “all-29” super wide high-definition cameras (22 players + 7 officials). This has almost eliminated the reliance of the replay official and the replay command center to wait for the TV broadcast to show an angle for review. In fact, a replay official can, and often do, start reviewing a questionable element before the play is even over, as we illustrated in a behind-the-scenes video obtained from the 2022 National Championship Game.

When the replay operation was completely relying on the TV networks, the process required the replay official to get word to the production truck of a specific element in question if they were not focusing on a relevant element. Replay can now help themselves to the appropriate camera angle, but this can leave the network unaware of what is being reviewed.

This is an area that Riveron will apparently be monitoring. A rules analyst will be focusing on the angles TV is airing, but there might be an element earlier in the play that is under consideration, and Riveron can steer the discussion in that direction. Riveron will only be working primetime broadcasts in this capacity.

Riveron retired from the NFL in August 2021 as senior vice president of officiating, just hours prior to the start of the first preseason game. In the 2020 season, he was solely responsible for replay functions. He was promoted to senior vice president in 2017 after the departure of Dean Blandino in that role. In the 2020 season, Riveron was solely responsible for replay functions as the NFL appointed 2 additional senior vice president in the department — former referee Walt Anderson and former coach Perry Fewell. That duo remains, with Anderson handling all officiating-specific aspects and Fewell working on administration and departmental communication with coaches.

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