John Parry’s salary is at least $200,000 a year, according to a report by Money that confirms the average NFL salary is $173,000, and is set to increase to $201,000 in 2019. Money notes that referees technically get paid per game, though, and since the payment for refereeing a Super Bowl game in 2001 was $11,900, the publication estimates the payment for refereeing a Super Bowl game to be around $40-50,000 now.
The NFL has not confirmed how much more referees make per game in the playoffs, and at the Super Bowl, respectively, compared to regular games.
In addition to their annual salary, referees also receive a defined-contribution 401k plan with an annual deposit of $18,000 and a partial matching contribution, per Money.
Here’s what you need to know:
The NFL Employs 121 Officials, & They Earn $4-10,000 a Game
According to CNBC, the NFL employs 121 referee officials, the median age is 54 years old, and these officials make between four and $10,000 a game. The publication does not define whether the difference in payment is based off of the game, the experience of the referee, or some other undefined factor.
As fan duel notes, the salary of a referee (if it is, in fact, in the $200,000 range) is extremely high given that they only technically work less than 21 days every year.
Parry’s experience is significant: though he started his career officiating baseball, he has been an NFL referee since the 2000 season, and he became a crew chief in the 2007 season. In an interview with The Michigan City News Dispatch, his hometown newspaper, Parry said in 2012, “I was most nervous about the coin toss as I was anything else about the weekend. A lot of people don’t know that there is a history of flubs with the coin toss at the Super Bowl.”
Parry cited the NFC divisional playoff in 2012 as one of the best games he’d ever been a part of at the time. He said, “That was probably the best football-played game I’ve ever officiated in. It was a phenomenal finish, outstanding play, and lead changes all in a playoff environment. I’m not sure if it could’ve gotten any better.”
Parry also gave some insight into how referees live their lives in the off season. Following the Super Bowl, Parry said, “Sunday night at 6:30 we kicked off the Super Bowl, four hours later it was done. I traveled home Monday and at 6:30 I was taking out the garbage just like I do every Monday night. Life returns to normal pretty quick.”
Parry’s Father Was an NFL Referee, Too
In an interview with as.com in 2016, Parry talked about the influence that his father, an NFL referee, had upon him growing up. Dave Parry was even assigned to referee the Super Bowl in 1983.
Parry said, “I don’t remember a life without the NFL. I was in grade school when my father joined the league. My Dad’s NFL officiating was all business to him. Only my Mother made the trip out west. We watched as a family from home. Back then, they actually showed and introduced the officials on TV. I can remember my family cheering as my Dad’s face was shown on TV and he stated his name and hometown. The week leading up to his departure was pretty tense at home – Mom kept us from under his feet so he could focus with the task at hand.”
Parry also went into a little bit more detail into the process of being a Super Bowl referee in the weeks leading up to the big event. “Approximately two weeks before the Super Bowl, you get the call of your life,” he said. “Once the emotions settle from that call, you go to work. You attempt to get all the logistical items completed as soon as possible – patches sewn of shirts and hats, game tickets, hotel rooms, etc. Once that is done you begin to prepare the crew for the biggest sporting event of the year.”
Parry continued, “We initially work from home via e-mail and conference calls. We arrive three or four days before the game and have daily preparation meetings. Our preparation to performance ratio is extremely high all season long, but this game is and should be treated different.”