NFL Referee Avoided Working Redskins Games Because of Name Controversy

NFL Referee Avoided Working Redskins Games Because of Name Controversy

Veteran NFL referee Mike Carey surprised the sports world when he revealed that he has been boycotting the Washington Redskins since as far back as 2006, refusing both to officiate Washington games and use the team’s purportedly racist name in conversation.

Carey is now retired and has taken a job as a CBS “rules analyst” but on a recent broadcast he announced his apparently long-standing feelings on the Redskins name controversy.

The former referee reported that starting in 2006 he told game schedulers he would not officiate a Redskins game. He also said he wouldn’t call the team by its name.

“I’ve called them Washington all my life. And I will continue to call them Washington,” Carey, the NFL’s first African American referee, told The Washington Post.

Carey went on to detail his boycott of the Redskins.

“The league respectfully honored my request not to officiate Washington,” Carey added. “It happened sometime after I refereed their playoff game in 2006, I think.”

Mike Wise of The Washington post revealed that a search of league records shows that the last time Carey officiated at a Redskins game was, indeed, in 2006. As the one-time ref said, that is about when he decided to boycott the team after a personal “epiphany.”

Carey did note that he never made a big show of his personal feelings about the team. He never approached the NFL or the commissioner, nor did he tell his referee bosses. He also said he never really talked about it outside his family, either.

“There was no reason to tell anyone,” the former ref said. “I made sure I didn’t have anybody else involved.”

Carey said that he worked it out in a low-key manner with the people who scheduled what games the refs were assigned and left it at that.

“When they were making assignments, I said I’d like to be excluded from those assignments,” he said

“Human beings take social stances,” Carey 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.”

Carey said that he felt the name was disrespectful to Native Americans, said he didn’t care if most fans were fine with the name, and linked the name to epithets cast at African Americans over the generations.

“It doesn’t matter how many people don’t like it,” he insisted. “It is disrespectful and I will not use it.” 

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