I’ve always been disproportionately proud of my ability to discern all NFL referees by both sight and voice. It’s a talent developed over years of watching myriad NFL games and unnecessary research on Wikipedia.
The fruit of my toiling is here for you now, a completely personalized and very arbitrary ranking of the NFL referees.
17. Ron Winter
Ron Winter is a ref who doesn’t play by the rules, and that’s really the problem. Winter, who seems like a nice guy who just doesn’t give a crap, captained the biggest officiating debacle of the decade in the 2002 Wild Card game between the Giants and 49ers, so suffice to say we’re not on good terms. Plus, I used to get him confused with former ref Ron Blum, who was also not very good.
16. Carl Cheffers
I have no idea who this guy is, which means he’s never reffed an important game.
15. Jeff Triplette
14. Scott Green
The back judge for the Giants-Niners game. Seven years and a Super Bowl title later, spite lives on.
13. Pete Morelli
Morelli made the ludicrous overturn of Troy Polamalu’s interception against the Colts in the 2005 playoffs–perhaps the closest the NFL has gotten to claims that they fixed games. (The NBA, on the other hand…)
12. Al Riveron
A second-year man who has made no impressions either way.
11. Terry McAulay
The ref of Super Bowl XLIII, something about McAulay always struck me the wrong way. He did, however, nail the Santonio Holmes call last year.
10. Walt Anderson
Anderson has steadily moved up the rankings after a disastrous (to me) debut about six years ago; he’s penalized more (get it) for a flag-happy crew.
9. John Parry
A playoff outsider, Parry is virtually unnoticeable. That’s probably a good thing.
8. Jerome Boger
It’s great to see someone overcome a clear speaking impediment to land such a public position.
7. Don Carey
The brother of easy top-five finisher Mike, Don Carey is in his rookie season. I have LeBron James-ish expectations for him.
6. Bill Leavy
Oft-criticized (undeservedly) for his performance in Super Bowl XL, Leavy controls the game well and enunciates penalties very well in his trademark deep voice.
5. Gene Steratore
Steratore is, to me, a poor man’s Ed Hochuli. He gets calls right, explains them well, and is about a dozen years’ of solid exercise away from matching the Hoch.
4. Tony Corrente
Corrente owns a clear and precise delivery, and I can count the number of times he’s gotten a call wrong on one hand.
3. Walt Coleman
Over the last few years, Coleman has repeatedly shown the guts to make the right call, including the Tuck Rule game in New England and last season’s Steelers-Ravens thriller in Baltimore, when he correctly ruled that Holmes had crossed the plane of the goal line. Too few referees make the right call, opting instead for the popular one; in that regard, Walt Coleman is a true American hero.
2. Ed Hochuli
Ed was deservedly everyone’s No. 1 until his gaffe in the Chargers-Broncos game last year. What you have to love about Ed (no, it’s not just the biceps), is the fact that he was so quick to call it his mistake and to live with the consequences. That’s not surprising, because Ed’s good at explaining anything. He’s the most popular and beloved ref for a reason, even if, for now, he’s not the best.
1. Mike Carey
Carey was always a solid No. 2 guy behind Hochuli, but he’s made the leap the last two years. He did a tremendous job in Super Bowl XLII, particularly not blowing the play dead on Manning’s heave to Tyree, and has never made a bad call (practically). I also love how he pauses between “Repeat” and whatever down it is. The only downside? He should probably wear a hat at all times.