Tony Verna, Inventor of Instant Replay, Dies at 81

Associated Press
Tony Verna in 1999

Verna introduced the concept of instant replay during the Army-Navy football game on Dec. 7, 1963.

Tony Verna, a television director and producer who invented instant replay for live sports games 51 years ago, has died.

Verna's daughter, Tracy Soiseth, said her father died Sunday at his Palm Desert, Calif., home after battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was 81.

Verna introduced the concept of instant replay during the Army-Navy football game on Dec. 7, 1963, after developing a method to cue the tape to pinpoint the play he wanted to immediately air again.

Instant replay quickly became a staple of sports games, but the concept was so new that the game's announcer had to warn viewers that the play was not live and that Army had not scored again.

Verna also worked on other high-profile TV broadcasts, including the Olympics and 1985's Live Aid fundraiser. He received the DGA's Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Direction in 1995.

Said DGA president Paris Barclay in a statement: “By any measure, a career spent directing major sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Kentucky Derby would be accomplishment enough. But Tony Verna’s legacy replays on television sets around the world every day. With the creation of instant replay 50 years ago, Tony changed the future of televised sports, and sports direction, forever. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

12:19 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19: Updated with statement from Barclay.

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