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There’s a new VP of replay, but the NFL won’t say who it is

NFL promoted Jon Berger to head replay in August



We reported before this season started that the NFL vice president of replay Russell Yurk, departed in June to join the Big Ten conference. The league advertised the vacancy publicly for a couple of weeks in July, even though the only people qualified would already be within the NFL’s orbit anyway. A successor was chosen in August.

No announcement was made by the NFL that there was someone new in the position, and Football Zebras reached out to the NFL to confirm the identity of the new hire and to verify the details of the position, such as whether the new person would be able to rule on replay decisions from the centralized command center.

Through a spokesman, the officiating department declined to confirm who the new vice president of replay is or make any comment. This is at a time when transparency by the officiating department is at its lowest.

With or without the league’s confirmation, the new head of the replay operation is Jon Berger, a longtime operations employee with the New York Giants who was recently hired by the officiating department in an administrative capacity. At some point after the league declined to comment to us, the staff page of the Football Operations website was updated to include Berger’s name. Again, there was no announcement, as they had done when Yurk was hired to the position.

We have also confirmed that Berger has authority to make replay review decisions, along with senior vice president of officiating Walt Anderson and senior vice president of officiating administration Perry Fewell. The replay section of the Football Operations site was recently updated as well. It mentions his name once as a replay decision maker, but then includes the background information of his predecessor.

So who is Jon Berger and how did he forge a path to heading the highly contentious replay operation?

Berger’s passion for the NFL developed during his formative years at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, where he became a pen pal of the Giants owner at the time, Wellington Mara. Berger began his career with the Giants as a summer intern in 1981, before becoming a full-time intern in 1986. In 1985, he graduated from SUNY-Albany with a B.S. in Computer Science & Applied Mathematics.

Berger’s career progressed quickly in the analytics field — before people even called it analytics — earning a promotion to the team’s computer coordinator in 1987. He later became the team’s senior director of football information in 2007, a role he held until 2021. At that time, then-general manager David Gettleman had a plan to restructure the information technology department, and Berger and the team mutually parted ways.

Following his departure from the Giants, Berger was swiftly hired by the NFL in 2021, taking on the role of a replay officiating trainer. Shortly after Berger joined the league, Yurk, his new boss, went on administrative leave and Al Riveron, the senior vice-president of officiating whose domain was reduced to replay in 2020, retired hours before the first preseason game. A memo detailing the reorganization showed that four people were cobbled together to run the replay operation which then was subsumed under the control of Anderson.

Although Berger was not mentioned in the memo to the replay staff as one of the four operating the replay wing, Football Zebras has learned that he voiced portions of the weekly training tapes sent to the replay officials and assistants, which continued during Yurk’s return from his leave of absence.

Those sources have confirmed as well that Berger did take on the title of vice president of replay.

Berger was visible in a live shot on NBC of the replay command center during a Bills-Giants game this season. He is standing at the left of this image which is zoomed in from the broadcast angle.

Chris currently resides in Michigan and has been a sports official for over 30 years. By day, he works in research in the automotive industry. By night, when he isn't watching his kids play sports, he officiates high school football, softball, and basketball while nerding out on all things related to officiating.

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