From 2006 until his retirement last year, Mike Carey, one of the league’s most respected referees, silently protested the use of the derogatory term “redskins” in the Washington football team’s name by requesting that NFL schedulers not assign him to any of the team’s games—a request the NFL honored.
Carey did not specify what precipitated his 2006 decision to end his involvement in Washington’s games, or why he chose that point in his career to make the request.
Carey disclosed his private protest in an interview with The Washington Post just a few weeks before beginning a new career as a rules analyst for NFL coverage on CBS.
“The league respectfully honored my request not to officiate Washington,” Carey told the Post.
Carey, whom NFL records confirm did not officiate a regular season Washington game after September 2006, told the Post that he did not want to be in charge of a field on which something disrespectful was happening.
“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’s stand may have had at least one immediate impact: on Aug. 22, the Post announced in an editorial that it will no longer use the name “Redskins” in stories about the franchise, and specifically cited Carey’s actions as a reason for the decision.
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