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Ex-referee Mike Carey asked off Redskins games because of team name

Former NFL referee Mike Carey was ahead of this Redskins controversy way before it really became a huge story a few years ago.

After the 2005 NFL season, Carey asked the NFL to not make him work Washington games anymore. According to the Washington Post, Carey found the Redskins' nickname "disrespectful" and requested to someone in the league office who makes the officiating assignments that he not be assigned to their games because of the team name. He asked that the matter be kept private. The league complied, because the last time he worked a Washington game was the season opener in 2006.

“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 told the Washington Post.

Nobody knew of Carey's stance until Mike Wise of the Post asked him at a media event for CBS broadcast talent. Carey quit his job as a referee to join the CBS broadcast team explaining rules and calls during games. It brings up the question, if Carey could get by for eight seasons without anyone knowing he asked to be taken off Redskins games over the nickname, are there other similar stories we haven't caught on to yet?

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It also will make Washington fans wonder about a playoff game at the end of the 2005 season at Tampa Bay. Carey made a controversial call to eject Redskins safety Sean Taylor for spitting on Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman. The Redskins won anyway, but the conspiracy theorists are likely to wonder. Carey was one of the most respected officials in the league, which is presumably why he asked off Redskins games. He needed to remain totally impartial but obviously felt he couldn't for Redskins games because of their team name.

“I know that if a team had a derogatory name for African Americans, I would help those who helped extinguish that name," Carey said. "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.”

There could be an argument, one stated in the Post story, that the NFL took a bit of a stand against the Redskins name by giving in to the request of one of its best officials and his crew, and that it might have slightly compromised the integrity of the game (the story says Carey was unaware if commissioner Roger Goodell was ever aware of his request). But this was Carey's stand, and the NFL respected it.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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