NFL reportedly might not have approved replay change if it knew Blandino was out

The NFL is changing the way it handles replay reviews during the 2017 season, and it suddenly has a mess on its hands thanks to the timing of Dean Blandino's departure from the league office. 

Blandino, who resigned from his job as NFL vice president of officiating late last week in order to pursue an opportunity in television, was scheduled to become one of the most powerful men in football in terms of on-field decision making.

The NFL, just mere weeks ago, voted to put Blandino in charge of centralized replay, giving him final say on all replay calls and making him one of the most public gameday faces in the entire league.

According to Peter King of, there is a "strong chance" that the league would not have voted to approve centralized replay if Blandino had left his position prior to the owners meetings in Phoenix on March 23. 

More from King on Monday morning (his whole column, which is headlined by a fantastic tribute to Dan Rooney, is worth a read, by the way):

So why didn't the NFL make sure to have him under contract so he couldn't walk away to do TV? That's the question many around the league were asking after this bolt out of the blue happened Friday. It was such a surprise that three prominent club officials over the weekend said they hadn't heard about Blandino and TV until they heard the news Friday. And though it wasn't a shock to some of his friends, and some in the league office knew Blandino would want to do TV one day, they didn't think one day was now. This was not an active rumor, at all, at the league meetings, when the centralized replay vote passed in a landslide, moving the final calls on reviewed plays from the referees on the field to the Blandino team in New York. I can tell you with certainty that the Competition Committee was blindsided by the news Friday.

The logical name based on the hierarchy in New York would be Alberto Riveron, a former NFL referee now with the league and considered Blandino's right hand man. 

However, King believes Riveron is not comfortable in that "public face" role that Blandino, who consistently appeared on NFL Network and doing videos to explain rules decisions and who consistently dealt with NFL teams when they had questions about what happened with a particular rule, was so good at handling. 

King believes the league could consider current referees Gene Steratore, Clete Blakeman, Terry McAulay or Bill Vinovich for the position, as well as former NFL referee Mike Carey. 

The quick answer is there isn't a quick answer and the NFL doesn't know who it will turn to in order to handle the public portion of replay review. It needs someone who is good on camera, who can easily explain NFL rules to the public and someone who can consistently make decisions that are in line with the NFL rules. 

Good luck finding that guy on short notice. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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