Mike Carey almost looks out of uniform dressed in a suit and tie. Where's the referee's outfit?
Carey has traded in his officiating garb for a spot on the CBS team covering the NFL. His job, like Mike Pereira with Fox and Gerry Austin with ESPN, is to explain the calls his former peers are making on the field.
''Most important is increasing the viewers' knowledge of the game,'' says Carey, who spent 24 years as an official, 19 of them as a referee, before joining the network last season. ''The rules can be really mysterious ... sometimes it leaves them scratching their heads and wondering.
''Rules are dynamic. There's a call in one situation and fails to be a call in another. Why now and not then?
''I try to explain what the officials are thinking, or what is the league asking the officials to do in this or that situation. We know that there are still going to many (fans) who are upset with calls. We try to bring clarity to the situation. As long as the explanations are made, being succinct on why and what happened, this is a platform where we can expound on it even more with an objective evaluation of what happened.'''`
Pereira, the former head of officials for the league, was the ground breaker for this kind of expert commentary. Carey notes it was a natural progression toward enhancing what broadcasters can offer.
''For years, ex-players have been brought into the broadcasts and have enlightened everyone,'' he says. ''Now, we have former officials doing it to provide a more intimate relationship with the game for the fans.''
THE VETERAN'S VIEW: Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, who took a pay cut for the second consecutive year to return for a 10th season with the team, is still the starter at the weak side spot in the base defense. But in the nickel package, when the middle linebacker is typically replaced by a third cornerback, Greenway has also been coming out in favor of second-round draft pick Eric Kendricks.
Being a three-down player would still be his preference, naturally, but he's fine with whatever is the best lineup.
''I'm open to absolutely anything, whatever that is,'' said Greenway, who has played through a variety of injuries in recent years and failed to play in all 16 games last season for the first time since he was a rookie. ''I'm just excited to win football games whatever that means I'm doing.''
With Gerald Hodges emerging as the starter in the middle, 2014 first-round draft pick Anthony Barr at the strong side position and a capable backup in Audie Cole, the Vikings have more depth at linebacker than they have in a long time.
''We're just trying to get the correct matchups, the best situation for us defensively,'' coach Mike Zimmer said. ''We rotate defensive line, so I don't know why it's a big issue to rotate linebackers. If we have enough quality to do that, that's important.''
SALUTING THE TROOPS: USAA is kicking off a season-long military appreciation program its Salute to Service Tour, an interactive NFL experience that features the Lombardi Trophy.
The tour runs from Saturday at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts and will make stops in 20 military markets through Nov. 21.
The traveling show will go to Fort Benning, Fort Hood, Fort Riley, Joint Base Andrews and USMC Camp Lejeune. It will also stop at events such as the Miramar Air Show in San Diego, and at San Francisco Fleet Week.
Other activities made available to the armed forces members will be a quarterbacking experience, insurance education, and a chance for active duty military to win tickets to local NFL games. The military members can nominate a peer to win tickets to Super Bowl 50 through an online contest.
''USAA understands military life has many challenges and can be stressful at times, so bringing our `Salute to Service' experience on-base is a unique and exciting way to recognize and thank the military community during a historic NFL season culminating with Super Bowl 50,'' said Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA's senior vice president of military affairs.
JERSEY REPORT: A matchup between Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and Browns cornerback Joe Haden would be juicy. An outstanding big-play pass catcher facing one of the best cover guys in the NFL.
It also would be a confrontation between the players whose jerseys have been the league's best sellers since the draft in May.
That's right. According to DICK'S Sporting Goods Jersey Report, Haden is the leader in jersey sales among NFL players, and Beckham, fresh off his Offensive Rookie of the Year performance, has soared to second.
Quarterbacks usually dominate the rankings, but Indianapolis' Andrew Luck was the top QB at No. 3. He was followed by 2014 Offensive Player of the Year DeMarco Murray - the running back has moved from Dallas to Philadelphia, and Eagles fans are buying bigtime - and Peyton Manning.
The top rookie is Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota, the second overall draft pick, at No. 10. One spot behind is the first overall selection, Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston.
Heading toward the season's kickoff, the Browns ranked first in team sales, with Haden the second straight Cleveland player to top the Jersey Report through the offseason and preseason. Johnny Manziel did so last year.
The Giants, Eagles, Colts and Seahawks followed.
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