Carey is Super Bowl's first black ref

From the Associated Press

PHOENIX -- The first black referee picked to work a Super Bowl didn't need a platform. Instead, Mike Carey stood off to the side and talked about his historic assignment.

"Sports is like politics. It's the window to progress," he said Friday.

Carey met reporters after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell delivered his state of the game speech. The crew chief routinely attends the annual address, but rarely speaks to the media.

Given the significance this time, Carey spoke for about a half-hour. He saw his appointment for today's game as "another step in the erosion of stereotypes we all know should be eroded."

There have been several dozen black officials in the Super Bowl -- two other blacks are on the crew for the game between New England and the New York Giants. Carey stood by as the alternate referee for the 2002 game in New Orleans when the Patriots beat the Rams.

He praised the black officials who have gone before him, notably Johnnie Grier, the first black referee in the NFL and now an assistant supervisor of officials, and Al Jury, one of the league's top officials for two decades.

Carey will be on the field a year after Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith became the first black head coaches in the Super Bowl. Dungy and the Indianapolis Colts beat Smith and the Chicago Bears, 29-17.

Carey's spot was officially announced Wednesday, although word got out two weeks ago. It almost got in the way of his preparation -- officials study almost as much tape as players and coaches.

"I got so many e-mails it interfered with my concentration for a while," said Carey, who runs a ski equipment company.

Carey is familiar with the Giants and Patriots. He was the referee when the teams closed their regular season. New England capped its 16-0 mark with a 38-35 win at the Meadowlands.

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