The Slatest

NFL Referee Avoided Washington Games for Seven Seasons Because of Team’s Nickname

Mike Carey during a game last season.

Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

One of the NFL’s most respected officials was allowed to stop working Washington games after 2006 because he felt the team’s nickname was disrespectful, the Washington Post reports:

Told a search of game logs dating back as far as 1999, his fourth year in the league, revealed Carey had not worked a preseason or regular season home or away Washington game since the opening week of the 2006 season, he smiled coyly, like a man whose cover had finally been blown.

Pausing for eight full seconds, he finally spoke:

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

Carey, who in 2008 became the first black man to work as the head referee in a Super Bowl, said he made the request to the league’s referee scheduling supervisors and isn’t sure if other NFL figures, including commissioner Roger Goodell, were aware of his stand. Carey will be working this season as an analyst for CBS Sports, whose chairman has said he will allow individual broadcasters to decide whether they want to use Washington’s nickname.