Tony Verna, inventor of instant replay on sports broadcasts, dies at 81

Monday January 19th, 2015

Tony Verna, the inventor of instant replay on sports broadcasts, has died at the age of 81.

Verna had been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia, his daughter told the Associated Press. He died at his home in Palm Desert, Calif.

Instant replay was used initially during CBS' broadcast of the Army-Navy football game on Dec. 7, 1963. According to the AP, Verna invented the tactic as a way to fill gaps between plays in football games.

More from the AP:

The concept was so new that when Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh scored a touchdown, announcer Lindsey Nelson had to warn viewers: "This is not live! Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again!"

"Not many things you can do in life where you can change the way things were happening before," Verna told the Associated Press in 2008.

Born in Philadelphia, Verna went on to produce or direct five Super Bowls, multiple Olympics and the Kentucky Derby among other sports properties, as well as non-sports events such as the "Live Aid" concert in 1985 and Pope John Paul II's "Prayer for World Peace" the following year.

Instant replay is now ubiquitous in broadcasts of all sports, and the technology has also been widely adopted for the use of reviewing officials' calls in games.

Ben Estes

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