The roster of NFL rules arbiters this season will include eight rookies on the field and the league’s first female instant replay official in the booth, Terri Valenti.
Valenti has worked on instant replay for the NFL for the past five years, prior to her promotion. Each of the 17 crews has an instant replay official. The league announced the assignments on Thursday, with all 17 referees returning to their lead roles for 2017.
Valenti has previously served as an on-field official for high school, college, minor league and international league games. The instant replay official determines when the game should be stopped for reviews after scoring plays, turnovers and the two-minute warnings, and throughout overtime.
The instant replay official is the go-between for the on-field referee and the NFL’s centralized operations in New York, where final decisions on reviews are made. The authority shift from field to office was approved by league owners in March .
The head linesman position was also renamed down judge to more accurately depict the responsibility of ensuring correct down and distance and eliminate the gender-based description.
The eight first-timers among the 124 on-field officials all previously worked for major college football conferences: line judge Brian Bolinger (Big Ten), line judge Mike Carr (Big Ten), side judge Ryan Dickson (Pac-12), down judge David Oliver (SEC), field judge Mearl Robinson (Pac-12), field judge Brad Rogers (SEC), line judge Danny Short (ACC) and umpire Steve Woods (Big Ten).
Five officials were unassigned to a crew. They’ll rotate throughout the season along with some of the assigned crew members, the NFL said, to seek league-wide consistency.
The NFL shifted 12 officials to new positions: Terry Brown (side judge), Alan Eck (umpire), Scott Edwards (side judge), Brad Freeman (side judge), Greg Gautreaux (field judge), Adrian Hill (side judge), Joe Larrew (field judge), Dave Meslow (field judge), Scott Novak (field judge), Kent Payne (line judge), Tom Symonette (down judge) and Sarah Thomas and (down judge).
The returning referees are Brad Allen (fourth year), Walt Anderson (22nd), Clete Blakeman (10th) Jerome Boger (14th), Carl Cheffers (18th), Walt Coleman (29th), Tony Corrente (23rd), Ed Hochuli (28th), John Hussey (16th), Terry McAulay (20th), Pete Morelli (21st), John Parry (18th), Gene Steratore (15th), Ron Torbert (eighth), Jeff Triplette (22nd), Bill Vinovich (13th) and Craig Wrolstad (15th). Coleman is the longest-tenured official in the league.
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