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Dean Blandino admits that when he first got involved in officiating as an NFL intern, he had “no concept of what it was all about.” Little did he know that he would spend his entire professional career working to improve the craft.
Today, two decades after that internship, Blandino oversees the NFL’s Officiating Department as vice president of officiating.
“I’m responsible for all our on-field staff, our internal staff, the administration, the hiring, the training and the retention,” he said. “We evaluate all our officials, and I am in charge of that entire operation.”
Blandino works closely with the league’s Competition Committee, compiling and evaluating data on trends, recommending league actions or rule changes and communicating all modifications to officials, teams, players and fans.
He strives for consistent rulings from all officials on all plays. He prepares weekly officiating training videos, edits the official rulebook, trains on-field officials and records “Official Review,” a weekly segment on the NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access,” where he clarifies rules and calls for fans. He stresses communication and serves as a liaison for all 32 NFL teams when they have questions about officiating.
“One of the most important things we do during the offseason is visit every NFL club,” he said. “We go over all the rules changes and points of emphasis for the upcoming season. It’s all about consistency and communication.”
Blandino spent four years as an instant replay official and was selected to work two Super Bowls and two conference championships. He managed the NFL’s instant replay program from 2003 to 2007, including overseeing the system’s upgrade to high-definition equipment in 2007. From 2007 to 2009, he was director of officiating, the No. 2 position in the Officiating Department, under Mike Pereira.
Blandino left the NFL in 2009 to form Under the Hood, a company that provided training to instant replay officials. Its clients included the NFL and several college football conferences, including the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12. He returned to the NFL in 2012 as director of officiating and was named vice president of officiating in 2013 and senior vice president in 2016.
“Dean has been in football officiating for the past 20 years and has made it his life,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said when Blandino was promoted to vice president of officiating. “He is highly respected by our game officials and coaches for his deep and thorough knowledge of the rules. He also has extensive management leadership experience in the NFL and as a business entrepreneur. Dean is well-positioned to lead our officiating team and ensure the integrity and continued improvement of NFL officiating.”