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Referee confidential: Parry the NFL's best?

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

A few NFL executives have told me they thought John Parry might be the NFL's best referee.

Postseason assignments will tell us what the league thinks, but Parry did get the call for the looming Broncos-Chargers elimination game in Week 17.

The NFL needs to avoid controversy in that game after Ed Hochuli's mistake helped the Broncos beat the Chargers earlier this season. The league's decision to assign Hochuli ended a seven-year period in which the veteran referee never worked a Broncos game.

Back to Parry. As the chart shows, NFL head coaches have reversed only one of his rulings via replay this season, a league low.

My feeling is that referees rarely make mistakes once armed with the latest high-definition video technology. They want to get calls right, and they would face scrutiny from fans and the league if they stubbornly upheld incorrect calls.

If that is the case, then coach-initiated reversal levels should tell us something about officiating performance. Referees and crews performing at higher levels would probably incur fewer reversals over time. By that measure, Parry seems to hold up well.

Note: I have excluded booth-initiated challenges from this exercise because the league pairs the same replay officials with the same referees each week, and challenge rates can vary significantly. Head coaches also challenge at different rates, but they are not challenging the same referees week after week.