Instant replay inventor Tony Verna dies at 81 (Instant replay inventor Tony Verna dies at 81)

Instant replay inventor Tony Verna dies at 81 (Instant replay inventor Tony Verna dies at 81)

TV instant replay helped drive football to the throne of US sports, and its inventor, CBS Sports Director Tony Verna, has died at 81. Verna was a brash 30-year-old when he first tried the tech in a 1963 Army/Navy football game, but was only able to use it on a single play — the final scoring drive — thanks to technical problems. Since the replay was at normal speed and TV viewers had never seen one before, many assumed the quarterback had scored again. That prompted announcer Lindsey Nelson to cry, “This is not live! Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again!”

Standard Ampex videotape machines at the time weighed 1,300 pounds and were impossible to cue up. Verna managed to cajole one from his CBS bosses for the Army vs. Navy game, along with some used videotape from “I Love Lucy.” He put tones on the soundtrack that would that would help him identify plays to re-air, a clever, jury-rigged way to get around the machines’ limitations. Fans clearly enjoyed the replay despite the confusion, and announcer Lindsey Nelson told him “Tony, what you’ve done today is non-retractable… people are going to expect instant replays in games and it’s never going to go away.”

 

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