Commentary

Bills Make Right Call on Recent Hire

Featured Photo Credit: © Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports via Imagn.com, LLC.

As I See It.

You almost wonder why nobody (that we know of) has done this in the NFL: hire somebody that can help them understand how NFL officiating works from the inside. Despite the increased focus on officiating with betting on NFL games now legal, most teams just accept that instant replay can help offset the unavoidable bad calls that happen in virtually every game.

The Bills have now reportedly hired a former NFL official away from ESPN to become a part of the organization.

First, a quick shoutout to our sponsors: Atwal Eye Care, the Bills official vision specialist. They performed cataract surgery on both my eyes several months ago, and the result was life-changing. Yes, THAT good.

Also thanks to BluTusk Tech of Orchard Park. They specialize in refurbishing older Mac computers, but just about any computer issues are right up their ally. They’re also great people.

According to the NY Post, and updated by Ryan Talbot of SHOUT, the Bills are on the verge of hiring former NFL referee John Parry away from ESPN to join their staff as a consultant. According to Football Zebras, Parry said “officials look at the game so differently than players, coaches and fans”.

I buy this 100%. It may not be obvious, but it makes a lot of common sense. I like common sense.

Reportedly Parry will be up in the booth during Bills games, giving them his interpretation of why a call was made and what might be expected next. He’ll be in direct contact with Bills coaches with suggestions on whether or not a timeout is necessary, or where the ball might be spotted etc. along with a ton of other details. This might save HC Sean McDermott precious seconds to make a decision, and perhaps the added time could lead to more input from the coaches.

This is a brilliant move that almost certainly comes from GM Brandon Beane, although he’s got a pretty smart staff working for him that may have started the ball rolling.

Parry, who worked as an NFL official from 2000-2018 before joining ESPN as an analyst on Monday Night Football, can use his perspective to help the coaches better understand what officials are looking for in certain situations, etc.

Photo by © Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports via Imagn.com, LLC.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has come under increasing fire in recent years, largely due to the legalization of gambling on NFL games. Billions are on the line, and fans now are not only upset if “their team” gets what they perceive as a bad call, but calls in other games that cost them (in their minds) money. This causes a lot more focus on the officials, who aren’t full time like NBA, MLB and NHL officials. Goodell claims the officials are doing a great job considering the speed of the game. He thinks increasing technology on replays etc., is the best way to help the zebras get it right.

Jets QB Aaron Rodgers, like many NFL players, thinks the NFL should hire full time refs, and pay them well. Goodell counters that the full time officials in the other sports make just as many or more mistakes, and he’s probably right about that.

This has to be great news for McDermott. He can’t see everything from the field, and relies on staff upstairs to recommend throwing the red flag for what they consider a bad call. What the Bills coaches see, and what Parry sees, might be quite different. Just this little advantage could mean a lot, since very often just two or three plays decide a game.

This might even be something position coaches can use to their advantage. How far can the CB go being physical at the line with a receiver without being called for holding or interference? How about offensive linemen? The players and coaches may not be looking at the same thing without realizing it.

It’s simply amazing how far we’ve come in terms of every aspect of the NFL. When there was no social media, and no legalized betting, the zebras weren’t nearly the targets they are now. The players are also bigger and faster. There are now mountains of data on every player, team tendencies, etc.

Here’s one suggestion I have for Parry: cut the viewing time on instant replays. Unless the call is quickly and obviously determined to be wrong, then stay with the original call and move on. It drives me crazy when the officials are under the hood for HOURS (so it seems) to determine from seven angles if a heel is 1/16th of an inch out of bounds. If you have to look at it more than once, you’ve done the job.

It’ll be interesting to see how this works – or doesn’t. But at first glance, this seems to be to be a really smart “outside the box” move by Beane and the Bills.

Another shoutout to Atwal Eye Care and BluTusk Tech. Love you guys!

Editor’s babble: Love this move. It will help McDermott and players to understand the ref’s perspective. Many thanks to Ed Kilgore for his contributions to our blog. You can also find Ed on Xwitter @Kilgore2Ed.

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