Mike Carey, long one of the NFL’s best referees and now a TV analyst, has revealed something that hadn’t previously been disclosed: Over the last several years of his career, he declined to work Redskins games because he was offended by the team’s name.
“The league respectfully honored my request not to officiate Washington,” Carey told the Washington Post. “It happened sometime after I refereed their playoff game in 2006, I think.”
Carey, who was the first African-American to referee a Super Bowl, said that he decided he had had enough after working that playoff game in January of 2006.
“It just became clear to me that to be in the middle of the field, where something disrespectful is happening, was probably not the best thing for me,” Carey said.
Although Carey didn’t want to make a big public show of his opposition to the Washington team’s name, he did say that he didn’t feel right about being a part of games that featured a team whose name is a racial slur.
“Human beings take social stances,” he said. “And if you’re respectful of all human beings, you have to decide what you’re going to do and why you’re going to do it.”
The NFL was able to handle the Carey situation quietly, but this is a growing problem for the league: There’s a substantial portion of the population that opposes the Washington team’s name, and that includes people who work within the NFL.