Vital Signs

Umpires

Mike Carey was the first “African-American” to head a crew that refereed a Super Bowl—the one in which the sainted Tom Brady got his butt kicked by the lowly Giants.  The term African-American offends me, and should offend all patriots, and probably offends Mike Carey, who is an accomplished entrepreneur and inventor, the CEO of a company that has as much to do with Africa as I have to do with being an “English-American.”

Mr. Carey is a good referee.  Like most National Football League officials, he is a man who first made a successful life and then transferred good judgment and calm demeanor into a job that few men can do.  Referees are judges; they require prudence.  In every game we call a sport, there are rules that are broken even more often than in politics or marriages.  “Holding” on the offensive line could be called on every play of every football game; so how can Mike Carey draw a line between a competitor and a cheater?

That is the job of referees.  Umpire was the word most of us grew up with—a derivative of an old English word that described arbiters, men who were given the task of keeping families and tribes from killing each other over matters that could be resolved short of swordplay or gunfire.  The reason men such as Mike Carey get appointed to umpire NFL games is that they have the gravitas to sort out competitors from cheaters in the most violent sport...

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