Bills Turn Heads After Luring ESPN Analyst Into Unusual Role on Staff

The Buffalo Bills are blazing new ground in their approach to officiating, luring ESPN rules analyst and former NFL official John Parry into an unprecedented role.


Parry told the website Football Zebras that he is leaving ESPN to take on a role as an “officiating liaison,” a position that will help the Bills in challenging calls and making sure they’re aware of all in-game officiating situations.


The move has earned some praise from analysts and marks a new development in the way teams approach challenges.



Former NFL Official Describes New Role

In the interview with Football Zebras, Parry said former officials can offer a perspective that is often missing from an NFL coaching staff. He explained that his role will include watching the game from the coaching booth and advising the coaching staff on when to make challenges and just what will go into the calls.


“Officials look at the game so differently than players, coaches, and fans,” Parry said.



“So to have somebody up [in the booth]: Hey, this is the mechanic, this is why that person made that call. And no matter what happens to this replay, if they flip it, here’s where the ball will be spotted. Here’s the down [and] distance. The clock’s gonna start in the ready for play, or it’s a 10-second runoff, so you could take a timeout. So you better start thinking about that, will you take one? Will you not?”



Parry served as an NFL official for 18 years, serving on the officiating crew for two Super Bowls. He retired from the NFL in 2019 and took a job with ESPN as a rules analyst for Monday Night Football.


Parry added that it can be difficult for coaches to keep track of all the details on calls, especially given the league’s changing rules. This can leave space for a role like the one he’ll be playing with the Bills, Parry said.



“There’s so much on the shoulders of coaches as it pertains specifically to replay because it’s grown so much and it is complicated. It’s hard to keep all of that data straight,” Parry told Football Zebras.


“And I think there’s value to having — I mean, obviously if you’re working for a team, you want to win — but your job is to ensure that they have all the data that they can make the appropriate decision or the decision they want.”


Bills Ran Into Questionable Officiating Last Season


The Bills are coming off a season marked by some questionable calls, both in their favor and against. After an overtime loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in November, Bills head coach Sean McDermott appeared to express frustration with a controversial non-call when Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick ripped the front of Bills quarterback Josh Allen’s jersey while attempting to tackle him. Reddick appeared to grab the neck of Allen’s jersey, which many thought warranted a horse-collar tackle penalty.


After the game, McDermott shied away from discussing the call directly.


“Nah, I’m not going there,” McDermott said, per 13 WHAM’s Dan Fetes.


The Bills were beneficiaries of another call later that season when referees flagged Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney for lining up offsides on a play where the Chiefs would have scored the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.


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