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Al Riveron is now the most powerful person in all of football

With the amount of replay reviews now for penalties and other calls, Mike Florio believes Al Riveron has transformed into the league's most powerful person during games.

Step aside, Commissioner.

During the coming football season, no person in the NFL will be more powerful than senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron. Although that probably became true the moment that the head of officiating acquired final say over all replay reviews, the addition of offensive and defensive pass interference calls and non-calls pushes it to a new level.

Starting this year, Riveron has the ability to swing massive chunks of field position, by throwing an after-the-fact spot-foul defensive pass interference flag or by wiping out a long gain (or a touchdown) based on offensive pass interference that wasn’t called on the field. And he has that power over each of the 256 regular-season and 11 postseason games that will be played in the league’s 100th season.

Having that power is one thing. Properly using it is another. It’s not easy to make these decisions, especially not in the moment, as the walls close in, the clock ticks loudly on the wall, the Jeopardy music plays quietly in the mind, and one misstep on the tightrope will give TV analysts, radio hosts, and bloggers enough content to carry them to the next weekend of games. We’ve seen Riveron, who was thrust into a job crafted for Dean Blandino after Blandino left for FOX, struggle at times -- most significantly in 2017, when multiple catch/no-catch decisions were inaccurately resolved via replay review.

This year, the warning signs have flashed for nearly two months, starting with his assessment of a couple of 2018 non-calls that would become pass interference calls in the new expansion of replay review. Riveron isn’t inclined, or able, to apply the kind of high bar that the Competition Committee envisions when it comes to overturning calls and non-calls of pass interference, as illustrated most recently by a phantom DPI decision from the final minutes of the Cowboys-Rams game.

Again, it’s not an easy job. It’s a job that was created for Blandino. And, as explained during Monday’s PFTOT, the best way to ensure the integrity of the league’s 100th season would be to offer Blandino a large pile of cash to return to the job that was made for him, and that quite possibly only he can properly execute.