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Instant replay inventor Tony Verna dies at 81

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Anthony "Tony" F. Verna, the inventor of the instant replay in sports broadcasting, has died. Verna, who passed away aged 81 in Palm Desert, California, first saw his creation shown during CBS' broadcast of the Army vs. Navy football game on December 7th, 1963. "This is not live!" announcer Lindsey Nelson had to explain after the network replayed an Army touchdown. "Ladies and gentlemen, Army has not scored again."

"This is not live!" announcer Lindsey Nelson had to explain

Verna, who worked as a producer when his instant replay was debuted, moved on to direct interviews with two presidents, the US broadcast of Live Aid, and five Super Bowls. The concept has endured — when Super Bowl XLIX is broadcast in two weeks, it will rely on Verna's replay, and 51 years after its first use, it's hard to imagine watching televised professional sports without the aid of his invention. Instant replay has allowed for some of the most controversial and memorable sporting moments, and the proliferation of the technology has changed the rules of a number of games.

The NFL, realizing that viewers at home could immediately see if referee calls were accurate, incorporated replays to overturn decisions on the field. Even more staunchly traditionalist sports have adopted instant replays as part of their rules — Major League Baseball began using expanded replays to challenge and confirm umpire calls last year, and FIFA finally adopted goal-line technology for the 2014 soccer World Cup after instant replay showed a series of goals that were awarded or denied inaccurately. While Verna has gone, his instant replay will live as long as professional sports are broadcast.