Dean Blandino, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating and a longtime operative in the league's instant replay department, is leaving his post for a network television position, according to a league memo obtained by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala.
There has been no official announcement yet on Blandino's replacement, though Blandino will remain with the league office until May 31. The league informed all 32 NFL teams of the matter Friday morning.
"Dean has done an outstanding job leading our officiating staff," Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, said in a statement provided to all 32 NFL teams Friday. "He has been a trusted colleague and friend to so many of us around the league. Dean's knowledge of the playing rules, his tireless commitment to improving the quality of NFL officiating and his unquestioned dedication to his job has earned him the respect of the entire football community."
Blandino rose from the ranks of intern, having joined the company in 1994. As an early leader in the implementation of instant replay, Blandino oversaw a pair of Super Bowls and conference championship games and served under long-time NFL officiating head Mike Pereira. But like Pereira, the desire to broadcast football came calling.
Blandino leaves the game at an important stage. The NFL this March approved fully centralized replay review at the Annual League Meeting, which will allow the league office to overtake replay situations in an effort to streamline the pace of play and provide a more consistent approach to plays in question. Over the last few seasons, the NFL has made sweeping changes to its officiating department, including clarifications to the catch rule, the implementation of a two-strike rule for personal fouls and this year, an adaptation of the NCAA football targeting rule which ejects a player for one flagrant hit.
Given the new centralized replay system, the hiring of Blandino's successor will be crucial. As Kinkhabwala noted on Good Morning Football, two current referees said they would be interested in the job, though not as its "currently configured." The incredible weight of all major officiating decisions could be a burden too big to bear for some, though Vincent told Kinkhabwala that he already has had multiple people reach out.
Blandino also was the public face of NFL officiating, and he did weekly television appearances and social media updates on key referee decisions during the week. The next vice president of officiating will have some big shoes to fill.