Mike Carey was an NFL official for 19 seasons, but if you look at the games he officiated during his final seven, you might notice something missing.
Carey didn’t officiate a single Washington Redskins game after 2006.
“The league respectfully honored my request not to officiate Washington,” Carey told the Washington Post’s Mike Wise. “It happened sometime after I refereed their playoff game in 2006, I think.”
Carey wasn’t sure if commissioner Roger Goodell ever knew about his request — he wouldn’t even name the person he asked — but he did say that he has disagreed with Washington’s mascot long before the recent backlash over the name.
“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.
For Carey, this issue went beyond his position as an unbiased official.
“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 already made history on the field when he became the first African American to referee a Super Bowl. He was given the honors during Super Bowl XLII between the New England Patriots and New York Giants.
But if this had been a problem for Carey for so long, why did he wait until 2006 to make the decision?
“There was an epiphany for me that it was time,” Carey said. “I was never comfortable with the name. I’ve never said (the team’s name) in my games. But then I realized it wasn’t an option to be part of them anymore. For me, I just knew. I knew that everybody — everybody — deserves a level of respect.”
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