Mike Carey reveals he declined to referee Redskins games

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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.

195 responses to “Mike Carey reveals he declined to referee Redskins games

  1. Prepare for commenters here to immediately denounce Carey’s skill as a referee based on this opinion.

  2. Great Referee and I respect his opinion. But if people really feel this way, then maybe they need to stop working any games in the league that allows them to keep the name?

  3. And that’s how you take a stand, quietly, respectfully, and behind the scenes. Not like Phil Simms, Peter King, and others who make a public spectacle of it and seek attention, praise, and recognition for their “personal stand.” Respect to Mike Carey.

  4. Okay, what’s next? Are we going to have atheist referees refuse to officiate New Orleans Saints games until the team is forced to change it’s name?

    If we have to oblige every single “group” in society in order to make sure they aren’t offended, we might as well stop give sports teams names at all, other than the city or state they represent.

    This is absurd.

  5. Did he decline to officiate KC games? If he didn’t he willfully ignored the wishes of Ms. Blackhorse and other Original Americans that indicate they consider that name offensive as well.

    This makes Carey is inconsistent at best; bigoted at worst. Neither are good traits for a referee.

  6. You know what’s ironic about the game in reference? He gifted the game to the Redskins by nullifying the beautiful touchdown play from Chris Simms to Edell Shepherd. He overturned a winning touchdown catch.

    He did get it right when he ejected the spitter, however

  7. Were many people offended by the Redskins name decades ago?

    You know…before they knew they were supposed to be offended?

    It’s his right to be offended and to boycott, but who cares? He just shouldn’t be paid for those games.

  8. Thank you, Mr. Carey. You handled a complex situation with intelligence and sensitivity. This is about more than business: it’s about a social issue that’s not going away. I wish more people had your class. I also wish Daniel Snyder would get a clue and change the team name now. It WILL change, you know–it’s only a matter of when, not if.

  9. So, why break the silence on your stance now? This feels like an obvious attention grab for a guy who really has not been an attention grabber up to this point. Seriously, if you’re okay with not mentioning you’ve been against the name of a team for more than 8 YEARS, why start chirping about it now?

  10. I wish I could pick and choose what I want to work on and what I don’t. I wonder if the League wasn’t so accommodating, if he would’ve chosen his social stance over his paycheck.

  11. Is he going to boycott the Chiefs too?

    What happens when the Redskins meet the Chiefs in the Superbowl? Is he going to leave the country? Not going to watch it?

  12. If I refused to do part of my job because of personal preferences, my employer would politely tell me to go find a new job!

  13. All the people who argue that it’s not a racist term are simply wrong.

    Now, if you want to have a conversation about whether or not the team and their owner should be forced into changing it because you and they simply don’t care that it’s racist and believe that keeping the name will appease more people than it offense, that is perfectly fine. That would be a totally legitimate argument and worth the conversation.

    But please stop pretending the term didn’t originate as a derogatory racial insult. Every story about the name is full of people insinuating or just plain stating that it’s not. In my book and in the eyes of most educated Americans, this wrong-headed point of view totally torpedoes your otherwise likely legitimate argument.

  14. He handled the situation and how he felt about it with class.

    Much like the way he carried himself on the field as a ref.

  15. Before you criticize his stance, understand we are all entitled to our opinion.

    Kudos to Carey for sticking to what he believes in. Would have been a better story if someone else came out and spoke on behalf of him, though.

  16. This dude hates Washington in general. And I’m glad he’s gone.

    Weather it be the Washington Redskins or the Seattle Washington Seahawks.

    Holmgren said he despises Carey because he thinks Sundays are all about Mike Carey and loves to be on TV.

    And if you didn’t know Carey lives in the Bay Area and has 2 outdoor companies that tries to compete with Seattle based R.E.I.

    Dudes just a biased ass clown

  17. Another uninformed person making a statement against a name he doesn’t understand. Redskins refers to a warriors war paint, not the color of their skin. Do a little research.

  18. Please ladies, stop hijacking your husbands PFT accounts and putting #’s with stupid sayings. This is a football site, not Facebook. No self respecting man uses them.
    Thank you

  19. Well he is/was in a naturally awkward position both now and then in terms of being the one to initiate the social issue war, so good for him to find a way to participate in taking a stance in a proper and professionally respectable way of doing so.

    So when are the public interviews/examinations of all league employees happening so that we can be sure games aren’t being fixed consciously or subconsciously by those that are conflicted about this team name? Or we could just skip that whole process and trust that the NFL has thought of everything and it’s all under control with no problems or bias of any kind regarding any aspect of the game.

  20. I respect his right to have a personal stance and act accordingly…without having overblown it into a faux socio-political crisis like name-changers today.

  21. The NFL should not allow this: Total B.S. How can the NFL let one of its employee tell their boss’ they have a problem with a teams “Name”. I say he should be fired , or the league should make a statement demanding Snyder to make the change. Period.

  22. “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.”

    If you are really making a ‘social stance’, you would probably have wanted to advertise it a bit. Not working the Washington team’s games in silence just makes the masses think you and your team isn’t scheduled for them.

  23. I’m sorry, but aren’t many tribes struggling these days with poverty and substance abuse? You’d think all this time, effort, and money (e.g. Those commercials) would be better spent on real issues facing Native Americans. Just my two cents I suppose.

  24. I call BS. He’s using the name debate as the reason for him not refereeing the Redskins when most likely there was another reason. The media’s going to have a field day with this one.

  25. Affirmative Action Ref-Bow down to your master.. the PC World. Did Redskin games before didn’t you Mike? Of course you did. Finally I am sure NFL fans of the Redskins will rejoice that one of the worst officials in the league will be officiating their games!

  26. It’s a free country so while I think the Redskins have a right to keep their name, he has a right to feel this way.

    I still don’t see why this name is so controversial now and wasn’t when it was created? There are less Indians now than there were then. Seems like certain people are trying to focus on an issue to take away from more important issues.

    Where is the outrage over ISIS having a presence in our country? Let’s focus on ISIS and this economy first. After that, let’s worry about a NFL team name.

  27. Affirmative Action Ref-Bow down to your master.. the PC World. Did Redskin games before didn’t you Mike? Of course you did. Finally I am sure NFL fans of the Redskins will rejoice that one of the worst officials in the league will NOT be officiating their games any time soon!

  28. So tired of all this political correctness BS. Hey Mike Carey, go talk with Ditka. I’m sure he’ll straighten you out.

  29. What do you all want? He took a personal stand based on his own beliefs and quietly requested not to work the games. He didn’t make a public spectacle of it. I thought this is exactly what a lot of you wanted–that I someone has a problem they take action consistent with that belief and not just talk about it. Respect to him for that.

  30. It must be nice to be in a job where you can refuse to work. I’ve never been so lucky. The NFL should take action against him, however, that would require taking a ‘hit’ to the Shield, so it’ll never happen. Personally, all this slur talk is getting old. I guess I should be offended when I’m referred to as a old white guy… Anyone who thinks of the Redskin name as insensitive who is not a native American is a hypocrite… Sorry, Mr. Carey your argument doesn’t hold soap…

  31. Yes the terms origins are based on their red war paint, however it was also used by the white man as a term of degradation….often preceded by a word like “dirty or sneaky” It is not a sign of respect or a title like chief….it is a term coined by the men who slaughtered them by the thousands.

  32. “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.

    So in a League where Jim Thorpe is in the HALL OF FAME (and has been for 63 YEARS), WHERE is the evidence that the league or any particular team is defaming or denigrating Native Americans? All I see is a celebration and a respect for them…and it’s been that way ever since I can remember.

  33. Good. I have decided that I am going to stop letting blowhards work my last nerve. So welcome to the room with Simms and Dungy in it. Hopefully you’ve been better to your kids than they have been to theirs.

  34. Don’t do your job get fired. I work for the Government and I can’t tell them I refuse to process this order because I do not believe whats going on at the border is right.

  35. good for him for being on the right side of history as opposed to those that are desperately trying to keep status quo because they are old, and scared.

  36. Not a slur, never has been a slur. Wasn’t even an issue until sensationalist media members hooked onto it looking for another story to blow up. Now the PC sheep want to act like its super offensive and they’re outraged even though they don’t really give a crap. People aren’t happy unless they’re complaining about something.

  37. One of the NFL’s best? I remember him being horrendous, but facts never seem to get in the way of adding false credence to argue against a false controversy.

  38. The same reject who “missed” the obvious holding penalties on the giants on the david tyree play. Shaun o’hara had his arm around the neck of seymour or jarvis green. There is a reason why eli manning was able to get out of that sack. It is a crime what mike carey did to the patriots – probably did it on purpose too.

  39. Mike Carey is a classy guy. He ehad his opinion and he kept it to himself the whole time he was officiating.

    Carey didn’t try to be pompous or anything.

    Pure class.

  40. Carey did the right thing. That name is so obviously a slur it’s absurd that in 2014 people defend it. If can’t see how and why that name is disgusting, you are lacking.

  41. If everyone just refers to them as Washington maybe then the owner will be pressured even more. I’m sure the networks can also refuse to show Washington games.

  42. I understand and respect his point, but when has the league ever shown itself to be a model of respect and diversity? How many owners are not old white men? How many officials, general managers or head coaches are minorities or women?

    And does the league demonstrate respect by gouging fans blind at every possible opportunity? Do they respect players by trying to force them into 18-game seasons? Do they respect retired players by only caring about them after a federal judge made them do so?

    The league is all about disrespect and greed, and it never bothered him before. He can’t pick and chose when to take a stand against disrespect.

  43. I agree that the majority of Americans are currently not offended by the name Redskins. However, that does not make the racist history of the term disappear. Snyder and the NFL are on the wrong side of this issue. The name will eventually change, but it will probably take a few more years of bad press and growing sentiment to make it happen.

    Personally, I’m not offended. But, I am glad my child hasn’t asked me what a Redskin is…..

  44. From my observation, Mike Carey’s crew threw more penalty flags than any other crew. The Redskins (and especially the fans) benefited from his stance.

  45. Should have been fired but of course he wasn’t. That’s not PC. What a joke this whole name thing has become. I guess it’s offensive to him but not the native americans who use the name as their own school’s nicknames.

  46. Mike Carey, Peter King, Tony Dungy, Phil Simms — if you are so outraged about the term “Redskins” being a racial slur, stop accepting money from the NFL. Carey worked for the league, King, Dungy & Simms all work for its licensed broadcasters. The NFL should not have accommodated Mike Carey. Mike Carey is bringing this up now to gain publicity. The nickname has meant the same thing for over 80 years – Where were you all 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago? Want change? Stop supporting the NFL. Money talks, not this hypocritical sanctimonious grandstanding. Peter King is a WORDSMITH. He didn’t know the etymology of ‘Redskins’ until recently???

  47. My first question is how far did his “social stand” go? Did it influence, consciously or sub-consciously, his calling of games involving other teams in the NFC East in order to tip the odds against the Redskins?

    We will likely never know the answer to this question but by acceding to his request, the NFL has put the integrity of the officiating in those games in question.

  48. Think about how much money Washington would generate if they changed the name, everybody would want a new jersey, t-shirt, whatever, just change the name and make millions ya morons!

  49. This is a very bad sign. It is obvious that referees have personal biases and preferences which they cannot keep out of their professional lives.

    Carey should be ashamed of himself and he should be banned from all league-related activity.

  50. The man made an intelligent, socially aware decision with class and respect.

    Now, let’s fill the comments with a bunch of outdated, close-minded dribble because change is scary! #’merica

  51. Love the Neanderthals on this site. It’s time to get a new name. The name doesn’t even make sense in the first place. Besides the sooner that team does a complete makeover including getting a new owner , the sooner they won’t be a disappointment year after year,after year, after year.

  52. I’m a huge Saints fan but being an atheist I can’t cheer for them anymore…I am now cheering for the Chiefs…ah never mind…I am now cheering for the Bucs…ah never mind…damn pirates…I am now cheering for the Browns… yikes not going there either

  53. Wish he would’ve felt the same way about Cleveland. The most narcissistic referee in the NFL. Altered the course of many a game in order to be on TV and make sure everyone knew he was there. Always felt like sticking forks in my eyes when he was officiating a game.

  54. I would be more impressed with his morally superior stance if it had cost him his job as an NFL official. But it cost him nothing since the NFL allowed it.

    The way I see it if you have a problem with the redskin name, then you have a problem with the NFL which supports the use of the name obviously. So you should refuse to be an NFL official and not take a dime of their money.

  55. Only a racist would compare the Redskins name to the Saints name and say they are equally offensive.

  56. I think that if the Red Skins were to change their name, there would be a lot of money to be made. Sell all new fan gear, and the fans could make some by selling their old stuff as collectors items.

  57. So if some part of my job offends me I can refuse to do it? Hypocritical and gutless to come out now that he’s not going to have to face the fans. Also the NFL is as well for not saying “We’ll assign you to games, you show up or don’t let the door hit you on the way out” If you’re going to take a stand be upfront about it when you decide to do it, Carey.

  58. So does this mean Carey won’t appear on CBS during Redskins games? I think they have 1 or 2 of them this year.

  59. Ugh not sure why I’m bothering to post on this topic again, but whatever.

    Organizations on record as opposed to the name include the Cherokee, Comanche, Oneida and Seminole tribes, as well as the National Congress of American Indians, the largest intertribal organization, which represents more than 250 groups with a combined enrollment of 1.2 million. These claims about most Native Americans in general supporting the name are dubious at best.

    Let’s try something similar though, a bit of common sense. So any of these names seem racist or would you support a professional football team with these names:

    Whiteskins
    Blackskins
    Yellowskins

    Put the name Redskins in the proper context and it’s actually kind of easy to see just how racist the name truly is.

  60. Every day it gets more and more obvious that the name WILL change.

    The only questions left are not if but when, and how badly will Washingtons fans and Dan Snyder throw temper tantrums and sling poor justifications about keeping the old name.

  61. I always considered him one of the better refs in the league, but how fair can this be to the team? Over a seven year period, the WASHINGTON team was not able to have one of the better refs officiate their games? I understand his point, but this was unfair in that the pool of refs for officiating their games was smaller than other teams. The league should not have allowed this to happen.

  62. 109,600,000 people are on welfare now. The stats were just released today. As soon as the Redskins change their name that will all change and work itself out I’m sure.

  63. This guy was the worst. His crew jacked up so many games with questionable calls. When I saw him and his crew, I knew calls would be screwed up.

  64. If they really wanted this to end, they’d take an independent survey of all Native American tribes to find if they found the term offensive and racist. If the results show it’s an offensive term, I believe the name should be changed. If they don’t support that argument everyone should stop. It’s not white, black or Asian peoples’ responsibility to tell the rest of the population and Native Americans themselves whether or not they should be offended by a certain phrase or term. I’ve read stories that there are tribes that find it offensive and read other tribes consider it a term of pride and treat it as such.

    Let the tribes decide what is offensive to them instead of this back and forth non-sense between people who are completely unrelated to the issue.

  65. What about Washington getting more than their share of Jeff Triplett or Ron Winter? Talk about unfair…

    And if Snyder would just change their logo to a potato (red skin) this would all be settled quickly .

  66. My question that has yet to be answered by anyone of authority representing ANY Indian tribe is this:

    When the team first was established and Redskins was announced, where was the outcry then?

    Why is it that it was not until the various tribes began running casino’s did the name become a problem.

    Until (and if) that question is answered, any talk of a name change should be immediately shelved.

  67. Maybe they could name themselves the Washington Tayacs. Tayac was the name of the ruler of the Piscataway tribe.

    The idea is something historical, maybe even a little educational, and most importantly OKed and endorsed by the local tribes to be an honorable homage to Native Americans instead of a generic, insensitive, stereotypical portrayal of them.

    Something like that would be a slight change that everyone could be proud of – the NFL, the Washington franchise, and the local Native Americans.

    I know, I know, change is scary and people resist change to a fault. Sometimes change is not even just a necessary thing, but a good thing. Their brand could be stronger than ever if they just stopped kicking and screaming about it.

    Ultimately, supporters of the name “Redskins” are really probably hurting themselves more than anyone else, because the franchise that they support would only be stronger and more likeable after a name change.

  68. Fire him. Fire the announcers who ‘refuse’ to say the name. You know, let them have the courage of their convictions.

  69. Being I live on Long Island, should we change the name of our towns and cities now? Massapequa, Seatauket, Montauk? These were tribes on Long Island isn’t it a tribute to them and their history? Are Latins appauled at Los Angeles? San Deigo? San Francisco? It’s a PC world and we are just living in it.

  70. I don’t care what liberals or conservatives say on this issue
    I don’t care what most people think or say on this issue.

    I CARE what Native Americans say on this subject. And the majority support the Washington Redskins team and name.

    Until that changes, I don’t care what you say.

  71. Not a slur, never has been a slur. Wasn’t even an issue until sensationalist media members hooked onto it looking for another story to blow up. Now the PC sheep want to act like its super offensive and they’re outraged even though they don’t really give a crap. People aren’t happy unless they are complaining about something.

  72. Must have been the Buccaneers playoff game where Sean Taylor spit on Michael Pittman, Edell Sheppard dropped a pass in the end zone, and the Redskins won with under 150 years of offense.

  73. Fire him. In the real world employees don’t get to pick and choose when they will “choose” to perform the duties for which they were hired; it’s a job which means showing up and performing competently (if that’s even possible in the NFL). There are plenty of people out of work with college degrees and families who are struggling because of the economy and company downsizing and so I have only contempt for this fool!

  74. Let’s all take a step backwards. The future is frightening! Let’s become Republicans and freeze-dry our thought. We all know science is a joke. Read your freakin’ bibles. Any of the hundreds of versions. All hail our corporate savior(s). We put the “T” in party, baby! just be the right color…

  75. (1) I respect Cary’s opinion.
    (2) Cary was consistently the best referee from what I could tell watching on tv.
    (3) I’m not still not sure that anyone should be telling Washington what to name their team, especially given the intent and the history of it.

  76. Mike Carey is so righteous. What a hero.
    Hail To The Redskins!
    If people really have two cents about social injustices., then they would find something meaningful to approach.
    Do not mistake motion for action, Mike Carey.

  77. Carey is bandwagoning , if it was that important than he could have spoken up a long time ago. Thats his opinion, but it is a “look at me” I want good pub opinion

  78. Let’s say for the sake of argument that he truly was the best referee in the game….

    The NFL purposely gave the Redskins inferior officials because he didn’t want to do his job because of a name that is legal and within their guidelines (for now)? Sounds like the skins got screwed by the league again. Maybe they should reward them with an extra $36 million in cap space. Maybe they can ask Mara what he thinks.

  79. Yet it didn’t bother him working for and accepting paychecks from a business that allowed a team with such a derogatory name in its league. Oooooookay

  80. He probably should have been offended decades before someone informed him how offended he should be.

  81. redskin
    /ˈrɛdˌskɪn/
    noun
    1.
    an old-fashioned informal name, now considered taboo, for a Native American

  82. Having worked in sports radio in the past and worked with Mike Carey, he is a good man and as a skins fan, while I disagree with his stance I respect it 100%. Interesting that people noted that the 2006 game was the one he threw ST out for spitting on Pittman, he also made that huge reversal call on the Simms to Edell Shepherd TD in the 4th quarter that probably would have won the game for TB. So you can’t say he had it out for the skins that day. Much respect to Mr. Carey good luck in all your future endeavors. You have this Redskins fans support.

  83. That he breaks his silence now after he has retired, makes me wonder if the league said they accommodate him, but only if he kept quiet about it.

  84. Most people don’t have the luxury to do that. Personally I’d also like to see a name change. And hearing that the NFL accommodated his request? Unbelievably hypocritical. If they cared enough about the issue to let Carey or anybody else out of working their games, they should care enough to force the team to change it’s name.

    And all you losers who are citing other team names, you just don’t get it. Most of you are probably white men who never experienced being part of a minority group that has historically been treated and marginalized the way Native Americans or African Americans or gays or any of a number of groups have been treated by mainstream white Americans. Treated badly doesn’t even begin to describe the atrocities members of these groups have suffered. Continuing not only to use derogatory names in this way is shameful and it’s about time we stopped.

  85. So let me get this straight. I’m a Native American. I’m not offended by the name. But Mike Carey – an African American – is.? For me?

  86. I live in Moscow, Idaho and after living here for the last 50 years I just now realized I am offended to live in a city that bears the same name as the capital of the commies, so therefore and hereto and wither, I now regretfully will respectfully mind you, I respectfully refuse to pay any and all taxes to said named city any longer.

  87. realbkw : We? time WE stopped? tell us all please how many times, or rather how YOU never ever disparagingly call a white man anything derogatory??? Yea, thought so.

  88. People just gotta make mountains out of molehills, often just to get in the news. I just can’t believe the name Redskin is really THAT offensive to anyone – if so, GET OVER IT! People have such thin skin these days in the US, can’t say or do anything here anymore.

  89. To be offended, is to make a choice.
    I choose not to be offended by ignorance, hatred or other, bc if I was, then I would live a miserable life.
    I can not change your mind, nor do I care to help people that do not want to my help. Believe what you will, but I’ve never used the word, Redskins, towards Natives, nor have I ever thought anything negative, in regards to its use. If you think that word is racist, then that’s your own problem!!! Not mine!!!

  90. The majority of these comments proves that the minority respecting his opinion don’t hold any water. What it does prove is th E majority don’t even possess enough self respect to fill a thimble.

  91. Here’s how you can recognize a hypocrite. The left wing media will often site a celebrity with a concurring opinion, and every right wing nut job with an Internet connection will say, “who cares”. Yet, they will expound upon a celebrity’s “salt of the earth’s, common sense when their opinion parallels there ownn

  92. Here’s how you can recognize a hypocrite. The right wing media will often site a celebrity with a concurring opinion, and every left wing nut job with an Internet connection will say, “who cares”. Yet, they will expound upon a celebrity’s “salt of the earth’s, common sense when their opinion parallels there own

  93. realbackwards, can’t we let Native Americans decide? Oh, that’s right. An overwhelming majority support the Washington Redskins team and name. Including the high school that recently decided to keep the name and whose student body is comprised of over 90% Native American students.

    They don’t need or want you to decide for them.

  94. I particularly love it when people who have no real skin in the game (pun intended) fly the ‘offended’ flag. Case in point – Hawk Harrelson made a comment about ‘next thing you know, they’ll be putting catchers in skirts’ and the usual suspect radio hosts talked about how it was soooo offensive to one half of the world’s population (women). As far as I could tell, not one woman gave one tenth of one crap about it. We live in a world of manufactured ‘offense’.

  95. Let’s add another angle – Carey apparently has issues with the NAME of a team, but has no moral outrage in officiating games played by a) drug abusers, b) felons, c) woman beaters, d) vehicular manslaughter guys and e) missing white suit dual murder guys.

    He gets is check from the same organization that supports these players, but actively celebrates them.

    I would have had more respect if he said ‘I’m leaving the NFL – and the check they provide me – because I have an issue with the light stance they take on the abuse of women.’ Or, ‘I’m leaving because I have an issue with the Breast Cancer Awareness activities and how that’s effectively a filter of cash for the NFL itself’ or ‘I’m leaving because of the way in which the NFL has skirted the issue of CTE and chronic brain injury with former players’.

    Instead we have ‘selective’ outrage.

    The NFL is an organization made up of its teams. Refusing to referee games of one team, but still continuing to collect a check is the classic example of having your cake and eating it too.

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