Zebra Hunt: Mike Carey

In this new weekly feature, Doug Farrar of Seahawks.NET will take a detailed look at the penalty numbers, officiating crews and careers of each referee in charge of Seahawks games. First up: 16-year veteran Mike Carey, who will be the main zebra when the New York Giants take the field on Sunday afternoon in the heart of the noisy Emerald City.

The official for Sunday’s game will be Mike Carey. According to data collected by Football Outsiders. Carey called the second most pass interference penalties in the league in 2005 (19), one short of leader Larry Nemmers. However, Carey isn’t a believer in illegal contact, as witnessed by the fact that he called that penalty only five times last season, tied with Walt Coleman for second-least in the NFL. Carey called offensive pass interference five times, putting him in the middle of the pack.

Through two games in 2006, Carey leads the league in penalties called with 76 for 614 yards. He’s known to be meticulous with his explanations and perhaps a bit too attached to facetime in front of the camera – he’s also known for a very “upright” and somewhat dramatic signaling style. He’s got a bit of a trigger finger with the flags. As evidenced by his numbers, Carey is not a “let them play” official – he’s ejected more players than any other official in the league. On January 7, 2006, he ejected Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor for spitting in the face of Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman in a wild-card playoff game. Pittman retaliated by slapping Taylor but was not penalized. Carey is proactive, and he wants to make sure you are aware of that if you’re watching him – whether you’re doing so as a fan or as a league observer.

It should be of interest to Seattle fans that in the midst of all that talk about possible consequences should the Qwest Field crowd noise be found to be artificially enhanced in any way, and a renewed awareness of the possibility of penalties charged to the Seahawks if their crowd can not be controlled, the most flag-happy referee in the league has been dispatched to the Emerald City. To most casual observers, Carey is perceived to be one of the league’s best officials, along with Ed Hochuli. He’s a favorite of the league office and of VP of Officiating Mike Pereira as well. He’s been an NFL official (side judge at first) since 1990, and a referee since 1995.

Carey’s 2006 crew consists of umpire Dan Ferrell, head linesman Steve Stelljes, line judge Mark Perlman, field judge Buddy Horton, umpire Tom Fincken, back judge Bill Schmitz, replay official Tommy Moore and video operator Bud Alexander. On October 3rd of last year, Carey became a part of NFL history as the first referee to officiate a game with his brother. Don Carey was the back judge on Mike’s crew in a contest between the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers.

You can read a very detailed article about Carey and his officiating career, written by Paul Attner of the Sporting News in 2002, here.

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