A Washington Redskins defensive end charges NFL referees with biased calls against the team because of its nickname.
“At the end of the day, it’s the name,” Jason Hatcher told reporters. “Don’t worry about the name. We’re players and we work our butt off, too. So I’m just frustrated with it. I’m frustrated with it. We shouldn’t have to be punished for that. It’s been every game, just calls after calls should have been made in our favor but it goes to them.”
Specifically, the Redskins objected to an unnecessary roughness penalty on Chris Culliver that amounted to a likely 14-point swing in the game. The defensive back nailed Carolina tight end Greg Olsen, knocking the ball into the air and ultimately in Redskins player’s hands. Culliver returned the interception 75 yards for a touchdown. But the referees faulted him for a high hit. Instead of a Culliver pick-six, the Carolina Panthers scored after regaining possession because of the questionable flag.
The call catalyzed a momentum shift. Rather than 21-14 Redskins, the score quickly became 21-14 Panthers. Ultimately, undefeated Carolina made the point moot by winning 44-16. But the Redskins still stewed about the call after the game.
Mike Carey, a CBS analyst who worked as an NFL referee for 24 years, admitted last year he asked out of officiating Redskins games because of his objections over the name. “I know that if a team had a derogatory name for African-Americans, I would help those who helped extinguish that name,” Carey told the Washington Post. “I have quite a few friends who are Native Americans. And even if I didn’t have Native American friends, the name of the team is disrespectful.”
The NFL granted his 2006 request. Carey’s admission, and attacks on the name from broadcasters, bureaucrats, and politicians, likely adds fuel to the conspiracy theory launched by Hatcher on Sunday, at least among the team’s fan base.
“It’s just not right,” Hatcher said. “We’re in the league, too. We are National Football [League] players. We’ve got a team, too. We go out there and we sweat and we work hard, too. I don’t give a crap about the name.”