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Alberto Riveron (born 1960) is a Cuban-American former American football official and currently the Senior Vice President of Officiating of the National Football League (NFL).[1]

Al Riveron
Alberto Riveron signals at Rams at 49ers 11-16-08.JPG
Riveron in November 2008
OccupationNFL official (2004–2012)

Early lifeEdit

Alberto Riverón was born in Cuba in 1960. His father, also named Alberto, fled to the United States in 1963. At the age of 5½ Riverón emigrated to the United States with his mother, Irene Valdés, on a Freedom Flight. Although they divorced his parents lived close to each other in northwest Miami. He grew up playing baseball, basketball and football, and he was quarterback of his high school team.[2]

His interest in officiating began in 1977 when he was invited to attend a football officials' clinic. After six weeks of training he began officiating in Pop Warner, taking up to six games a day. He moved onto high school games and by 1990 was officiating in college games. He started in the now-defunct Southern Independent Collegiate Officials Association, which included teams such as Miami and Notre Dame. In 1993 Riverón joined the Big East Conference officiating for six years as a field judge and a side judge. In 2000 Riverón moved to Conference USA, and spent the next three years working as a referee. His supervisor was veteran official Gerald Austin, who recommended him for the now defunct NFL Europe. For two years Riverón would officiate for ten days in Europe.[2]

Officiating careerEdit

In 2004 the National Football League (NFL) hired Riverón as a side judge. Mike Pereira, the NFL's vice president for officiating, said "You can't teach the confidence and decisiveness with which he does things."[2] He was the first Hispanic to officiate the NFL.[3] Before every game he dedicates over 35 hours watching footage, studying the rules and meeting with his crew. He also spends hours in the gym to keep his fitness up.[2]

He was promoted to head referee (crew chief) in April 2008 following the retirements of Austin and Larry Nemmers. He changed how his name is listed in order to connect more with his heritage. Previously listed as Al Riveron he now uses Alberto.[2]

Riveron was the crew chief for the 2012 AFC Championship game between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots, and was the alternate referee of Super Bowl XLVI.

Officiating executiveEdit

On 19 February 2013, Riveron was promoted to the league's Senior Director of Officiating, a newly created position as a second-in-command under the league's former Vice President of Officiating, Dean Blandino.[4] On 10 May 2017, he was named Senior Vice President of Officiating.[5] Despite a shaky start the NFL announced that it would retain Riveron as its senior vice president of officiating for the 2018 season.[6]

During the 2018 season, Riveron received criticism for the manner in which NFL officials implemented penalties for roughing the passer, which had been deemed an area of emphasis the previous off-season.[7][8] Critics of the new emphasis on the rule included former NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino as well as Mike Pereira.[9][10] Riveron admitted in an interview that at least two of the roughing the passer penalties applied the first week of the season had been called incorrectly.[11][12] In response, the NFL competition committee held a conference call to discuss the implementation of the rule.[13][14] After the conference call, the competition committee issued a rule clarification, which led to a dramatic reduction in roughing the passer penalties in the following weeks.[15]

On 19 September 2019, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tweeted that he was turning off the Thursday Night Football game because he couldn't watch the "ridiculous penalties" for offensive holding[16][17] Two days later, Riveron held a conference call with 17 NFL referees to discuss the frequency with which holding was being called. The next day, holding penalties were called an average of 2.9 times per game, down from a rate of 5.7 times per game over the previous three weeks, leading to speculation that Brady may have influenced how NFL referees officiate games.[18]


Riverón says that when he makes mistakes, he hears about it from everyone, but that "no one feels worse when I make mistakes than I do." He likes to keep an open line of communication between himself and the coaches and players, but tries to stop them from becoming one-sided.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

Riveron has a wife, Patricia, and two sons, Tyler (died 25 September 2016)[19] and Austin.[20] He had a weekday job as a sales associate for Florida Storm Panels when he first started officiating.[2]


  1. ^ Alberto Riveron Named NFL VP of Officiating After Dean Blandino's Resignation - Mike Chiari, Bleacher Report, 10 May 2017
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Andrew Lawrence: Alberto Riveron is only Latino ref in NFL". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  3. ^ Sando, Mike (1 April 2008). "NFL promotes Cheffers, Riveron to referee". ESPN. Archived from the original on 8 October 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2008.
  4. ^ "Alberto Riveron is officiating director". Associated Press. ESPN. 19 February 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  5. ^ Bonesteel, Matt. Alberto Riveron to replace Dean Blandino as NFL's new director of officiating. Chicago Tribune. 25 January 2017.
  6. ^ Wagner-McGoughl, Sean. NFL to retain head of officiating Al Riveron for 2018 despite shaky first season. CBS Sports. 25 January 2017.
  7. ^ Schilken, Chuck. Roughing-the-passer calls are causing confusion, frustration among NFL players. Los Angeles Times. 25 September 2018.
  8. ^ Jones, Jonathan. Are Roughing the Passer Penalties Decreasing? Tracking the Week 4 Quarterback Hits. Sports Illustrated. 30 September 2018.
  9. ^ Boren, Cindy. ‘A dangerous precedent’: Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino hate the NFL’s roughing-the-passer calls. Washington Post. 18 September 2018.
  10. ^ McDonald, Charles. Clay Matthews’ controversial roughing the passer call on Kirk Cousins has everyone confused. SB Nation. 17 September 2018.
  11. ^ NFL: Key penalty in Steelers-Browns called in error. Reuters. 10 September 2018.
  12. ^ Pelissero, Tom. Officiating chief: Refs erred on call against Browns' Myles Garrett. 10 September 2018.
  13. ^ Battista, Judy. Competition Committee uncomfortable with roughing calls. 25 September 2018.
  14. ^ Gantt, Darin. Report: Competition committee wants roughing rule applied differently. NBC Sports. 25 September 2018.
  15. ^ Seifert, Kevin. Inside the NFL's offensive landscape: Will last season's trends continue in 2019?. ESPN. 20 August 2019.
  16. ^ When Tom Brady Talks, The NFL Listens. Washington Post. 24 September 2019.
  17. ^ The Brady Effect? NFL Talk To Referees About Excessive Number Of Holding Penalties. CBS Boston. 22 September 2019.
  18. ^ Seifert, Kevin. Holding calls plummet after call to referees. ESPN. 23 September 2019.
  19. ^ In Memoriam: Tyler James Riveron (1991-2016)
  20. ^ Branch, John (15 November 2008). "For Alberto Riveron, From Cuba to N.F.L.'s First Hispanic Referee". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 November 2008.