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The talk about the Washington NFL franchise’s nickname has not died down. In fact, calls to change the name will only get louder as the season starts. Just after commentators Phil Simms and Tony Dungy said they will avoid saying the offensive term, a respected NFL referee has said that he avoided working games there because of it.
Mike Carey, who retired from the league following the 2013 season, has not refereed a game in Washington since 2006. When the Washington Post brought this up to him, he looked as if the newspaper had uncovered a major secret.
“The league respectfully honored my request not to officiate Washington,” Carey replied after a pause. “It happened sometime after I refereed their playoff game in 2006, I think.”
So, yes, for the last eight seasons of his career - which included becoming the first African American to officiate a Super Bowl - Carey asked the NFL to make sure he didn’t call a Washington game.
“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,” he continued.
While Carey said he never spoke to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell specifically about this request, he refused to name the person within the league that approved it.
This revelation comes just days after Simms’ interview with the Associated Press. The former Giants quarterback, who is a member of CBS Sports’ No. 1 commentary team, said that he will refer to the Washington Redskins as just “Washington.”
“I never really thought about it, and then it came up and it made me think about it,” Simms said. “There are a lot of things that can come up in a broadcast, and I am sensitive to this.”
Simms and Jim Nantz will call CBS’ broadcast of the Washington game against the Giants on Sept. 25.
NBC’s Dungy will also not say the term, which is considered a racial slur against Native Americans. CBS and Fox have both said that they will let their announcers make their personal decisions about using the term.
image of Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III courtesy of Dara Kushner/INFevents.com