Football isn’t just a job for NFL referee John Parry, it’s a family affair. John’s father Dave (left) was a highly accomplished member of the football officiating fraternity. John and his family want to honor the late Parry a unique way. The best way to do that in their minds was to participate in the Hall of Fame’s Gold Jacket 5k Race on Saturday, April 23.
“It seemed like the perfect place to bring everyone together,” said Parry. “My dad lived, breathed and slept football.”
Parry’s group consists of over 20 friends and family from three generations who range in age from 3 to 80 years old. They will be traveling to Northeast Ohio from all over the country just for this special moment.
Parry explained that it all came together perfectly. The race happens to be in April, which is the month his father was born and also close to five years from his passing. Most of his family are football fans and have always wanted to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The race will be a challenge for some members of his family. Parry’s niece has Down Syndrome and his sister has a very rare muscle deficiency, but both are determined to participate and finish the race.
“I guess it speaks volumes for my dad because my dad always supported and donated to children and people that had disabilities because of his daughter,” Parry shared.
The Parry family will all gather together for a nice pre-race meal on Friday in Akron, Ohio.
Dave was one of the most respected officials in the NFL and the NCAA. He was an on-field college football official for 20 years and worked in the NFL from 1975-1990. He was assigned to 14 NFL playoff games, including four conference championship games, and was the side judge in Super Bowl XVII.
Parry became coordinator of football officials for the Big Ten in 1990 and helped the Conference become the first in college football to use instant replay. He left the Big Ten to become the first national coordinator of officials in 2008.
John’s father was a major influence on him. He worked for his father in the Big Ten Conference for a five years before moving to the professional ranks.
John served as the referee during the 2013 NFL/Hall of Fame Game.
“It was a special bond we shared,” Parry said.
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Gold Jacket and former Oakland Raiders running back Marcus Allen will high five runners as they cross the finish line. Participants will also receive a championship ring medal for completing the race.