So the news came down Friday morning -- seemingly out of nowhere -- that Dean Blandino was stepping down as the NFL's VP of officiating. He will reportedly join a network as an analyst. But his departure will make for an interesting path here for the league and the officials. Blandino was just in Phoenix a couple weeks ago for the NFL owners meetings, explaining some of the rules changes at a press conference. One of the moves for this season was changing replay -- not only making it so officials will view replay challenges on a tablet on the field instead of a screen on the sideline under a hood, but also so that the final decision on replay will now come from the centralized location in New York and not the on-site referree. Blandino, as VP, was supposed to be one of the few people that would be making these important decisions.
Now, Blandino -- who had been pushing for such a change -- is gone.
Who moves into that role will be under scrutiny. Blandino was generally considered solid at his job, although there are plenty of people who don't like how officiating has gone (something tells me that will always be an issue, however) and there have certainly been plenty of officiating controversies the last few seasons.