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Former NFL ref Mike Carey takes a public stance on Washington Redskins' moniker

Former NFL ref, Mike Carey, made a public statement on how the Washington Redskins moniker offends him.
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Mike Carey, respected NFL referee with a 19-year career, is offended by the moniker that is the Washington Redskins. The African-American ref is so offended by the term that he has always referred to the team as just “Washington.” The reason the now-retired referee disassociated himself with the franchise in our nation’s capital is because he requested not to officiate a Redskins’ home or away game, a request the NFL granted discreetly in 2006.

Now that he’s no longer an NFL official, Carey made his opinion public on Wednesday; it had been a secret he’s been keeping for his entire refereeing career. He retired this offseason as an NFL official to join CBS Sports as a consultant on game days. Earlier this year, CBS gave their broadcasters the option to not call the team by the Redskins. As his new colleagues answered the question whether or not they’ll be calling them the Redskins or not, Carey answered, “I’ve called them Washington all my life, and I will continue to call them Washington.” He then elaborated, revealing his unbeknown bias toward the team.

“I know that if a team had a derogatory name for African-Americans, I would help those who helped extinguish that name. 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," Carey said. “In America, we’ve learned that respect is the most important thing that you have. I learned it from my parents, my schools, from my faith. And when you learn there’s something that might not be as respectful as you like, when you come to terms with it, you have to do something about it.”

Refs in any sport are supposed to be objective, unbiased and call it as they see it each and every play. If he was offended by the team’s name and officiating Redskins’ games would have compromised Carey’s fairness because of it, he had the right to withhold himself from games Washington plays in. He simply took a social stance in anonymity. Instead of going public and making conceited remarks, Carey kept silent like a professional. The NFL already has the concussion scandal and enforces stricter suspensions for victimless crimes, there’s no need for another scandal involving a ref who has a bias against a certain team.

Many people have made their opinions clear about the name of the Redskins and its offensiveness to Native Americans, though nobody this close to the inside of the NFL has spoken out until now; and honestly, it’s quite refreshing to hear a protest on the issue without the narcissism. There aren’t many people that are apathetic on this issue; you’re either offended by the team name or you believe it honors Native Americans. 50 Democrat Senators urged the NFL to give the team a nudge to change the name, though Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder remains vehemently against changing the name, citing that “Redskins” is a term of endearment that honors and respects all Native Americans.