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Steve Grogan
FFL: Week 1 | NFL: Week 1

NFL has 1st female replay official, more leeway to celebrate

2017-07-14 06:02:41
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Sports Writer

Terri Valenti, right, who will be the NFL's first female instant replay official, and Alberto Riveron, the NFL's new head of officiating, speak to reporters before the start of the annual NFL officiating clinic Friday, July, 14, 2017 at a hotel in Irving, Texas. Valentini moves into the booth two years after Sarah Thomas became the NFL's first full-time female official on the field, and Riveron was promoted after Dean Blandino left the NFL. (AP Photo/Stephen Hawkins)


IRVING, Texas (AP) Terri Valenti always enjoyed football as a little girl, but never dreamed then of being in the NFL. That became her goal only after officiating games for the first time in 1999.

Valenti this season will be the NFL's first female instant replay official in the booth, moving into that position two years after Sarah Thomas became the league's first full-time official on the field.

''I didn't know what was involved, how long the road would be, how hard it would be, or if I would ever get there,'' Valenti said Friday at the NFL's annual officiating clinic. ''To be here at this point is just awesome.''

The annual clinic, held before each season, was the first since Alberto Riveron's promotion to be the head of officiating after Dean Blandino left the NFL.

Valenti spent the past five seasons working for instant replay in the NFL, including a Super Bowl. She also worked in the past as an on-field official in the professional United Football League in 2009, as well as high school, college, minor league and international league games.

Her new instant replay role for the NFL is different and more prominent. Each of the 17 officiating crews have an instant replay official who is the go-between for the on-field referee and the NFL's centralized operations in New York, where final decisions on reviews will be made starting this season.

''The roles I've had in the past have been supporting the replay official and getting that information that person needs to do his or her job effectively,'' she said. ''Now I'm kind of point person for a little team at each field.''

NFL referee Brad Allen said the NFL is concerned about having diversity and the most qualified people.

''It's a positive benchmark in society that we're not sort of in an old-school, old-boys mentality,'' Allen said.

Valenti, a mother of five sons, said she has never had any concerns about the players. She said she has always felt welcome when working games.

''I think at first they give me a little bit more space, which I use to my advantage, but I also have five sons so I understand boys a lot,'' she said. ''It's just natural for me, doing it at home for 33 years.''

Riveron, a nine-year game official and former referee, emphasized that the only change with the centralization of replay is that he will be the one making the final decisions on such calls.

''The process hasn't changed. We've had the same process in place now for three years. So the only thing that's changed about the process, that instead of the final decision being with the referee on the field, it's now with New York,'' he said. ''The consultation process, the way we look at the film, the plays we show him, the angles, that hasn't changed one bit.''

NFL owners also earlier this year made changes to give players more leeway for their celebrations after touchdowns. The football can again be used as a prop, and there can be group celebrations among teammates.

Asked if officials were clear on where to draw the line of celebrations, Riveron said, ''Extremely clear.''

Sexually suggestive moves and portrayals of violence, such as a throat slash, still are prohibited.

''Basically we're going to watch what they do and let them celebrate and if it gets excessive in length of time then we'll have to decide, but I'm not sure we know exactly what that length of time is,'' said referee Walt Coleman, who is going into his 29th NFL season. ''We know players are out there thinking up what they're going to do, so it should be interesting and entertaining.''

Player Notes
Cole Beasley Jul 24 5:40pm ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley (hamstring) has been cleared for training camp. He's been out for offseason programs, but is ready for a full workload to start camp. Beasley is starting his age-28 season, looking to improve on his career highs from last season (98 targets and 75 catches). He's a solid depth WR with a high floor but a low ceiling.

Willie Snead Jul 24 1:53pm ET

New Orleans Saints exclusive rights free-agent WR Willie Snead said he'll report to camp Thursday, July 27, despite his desire for a new contract.

Clayton Geathers Jul 24 1:33pm ET

Indianapolis Colts S Clayton Geathers (neck) will be on the Physically Unable to Perform list to open the season and miss at least the first six weeks, according to general manager Chris Ballard.

Andrew Luck Jul 24 1:13pm ET

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) will begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, according to general manager Chris Ballard. The team expects Luck to come off before the beginning of the season.

Latavius Murray Jul 24 12:13pm ET

Minnesota Vikings RB Latavius Murray (ankle) was placed on the active/Physically Unable to Perform list Monday, July 24.

Sharrif Floyd Jul 24 12:13pm ET

Minnesota Vikings DT Sharrif Floyd (knee, quadriceps) was placed on the active/non-football injury list Monday, July 24. LB Shaan Washington (undisclosed) was placed on the active/Physically Unable to Perform list.

Keenan Allen Jul 24 10:43am ET

Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen (knee) looked quick and explosive in offseason work. He's due for a monster season, according to beat writer Eric D. Williams.

Giovani Bernard Jul 24 10:03am ET

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (knee) is likely to be cleared for the beginning of training camp. Bernard is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Tyler Eifert Jul 24 10:03am ET

Cincinnati Bengals TE Tyler Eifert (back) is expected to be ready for training camp.

DeAngelo Hall Jul 24 9:23am ET

Washington Redskins FS DeAngelo Hall (knee) and LB Houston Bates (knee) will begin camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Latavius Murray Jul 23 10:33pm ET

Minnesota Vikings RB Latavius Murray (ankle) was one of the veterans to show up with the rookies for an early start to training camp Sunday, July 23. 'It'll be helpful for me just being here,' Murray said. 'I'm happy to be able to dive back into the playbook, and again, I want to learn it as much as I can, inside and out, so when I'm back on the field I'm able to play fast.'

Odell Beckham Jr. Jul 23 10:13pm ET

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. is the only player in NFL history with at least 90 catches, 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his first three seasons.

Jeff Janis Jul 23 9:23pm ET

Green Bay Packers WR Jeff Janis should make the 53-man roster this season but will likely be limited to a role on special teams, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

Aaron Jones Jul 23 9:23pm ET

Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones could emerge as the third-down back this year, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

Jordan Matthews Jul 23 7:03pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles WR Jordan Matthews (knee) may receive limited snaps during training camp since he missed some offseason workouts because of knee tendinitis, according to head coach Doug Pederson.

Dwayne Gratz Jul 23 6:13pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles CB Dwayne Gratz was released Sunday, July 23.

Beau Allen Jul 23 6:13pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles DT Beau Allen (pectoral) and CB Sidney Jones (Achilles') were placed on the Non-Football injury list Sunday, July 23.

Ryan Mathews Jul 23 4:03pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles RB Ryan Mathews (neck) has yet to be medically cleared from offseason neck surgery, and his surgeon doesn't want to revisit the matter until sometime in August, according to a source.

Robert Griffin III Jul 23 2:33am ET

Free-agent QB Robert Griffin III (Browns) has started to attract 'mild interest' from NFL clubs, four months following his March release from Cleveland.

Marquise Goodwin Jul 22 11:03pm ET

San Francisco 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin is more than just a deep threat, according to WR Jeremy Kerley. 'Working with him for the last two or three months, he's an all-around receiver and he knows what he's doing,' Kerley said.