NEW YORK — CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus on Wednesday announced the network’s plans to replace current in-studio NFL officiating analyst Mike Carey with an empty sock.
“Effective immediately, NFL broadcasts on CBS will no longer feature officiating analyst Mike Carey, who will be replaced on a permanent basis by an empty argyle-patterned men’s sock,” said McManus, who added that the decision to replace Carey was relatively simple. “This was not something we thought long and hard about. It just makes sense.”
Carey, whose career as an NFL official began in 1990 and ended with his resignation in 2013, had been with the network since 2014, providing inconsequential analysis of league rules that often served to confuse rather than inform viewers.
Carey enjoyed a steady climb through the ranks of professional officiating, beginning as a college official in the Western Athletic Conference in 1985 before later moving on to the NFL, where he became the first African American referee to poorly officiate a Super Bowl in 2007.
That career trajectory is a stark contrast to Carey’s neophyte replacement at CBS, where all league rules and close calls will now be analyzed and monitored by a 60 percent cashmere, 26 percent silk and 14 percent nylon foot covering. The sock will make its debut this Thursday night when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers square off against the St. Louis Rams.
“We understand this will be something of a baptism by fire for the sock,” said McManus, who said the garment was chosen to replace Carey when he could not find a corresponding sock in his sock drawer earlier this week. “But even if the sock just sits on its stool in the studio and says nothing, which we fully expect it to do since it’s an inanimate object, it still will have offered more insightful analysis and interpretation than we have received from Mike Carey over the last season-plus.”
While Carey’s abrupt departure shocked many industry insiders, others feel McManus’ gutsy move could change fans’ professional football viewing experience for years to come.
“If this sock does what I think it will do, which is lay idly and silently on a stool, all the while saving viewers from having to listen to former officials bumble their way through confusing breakdowns of unnecessarily complex rules even the most seasoned NFLers fail to understand, then this could be a game-changer in professional football broadcasting,” said Sports Illustrated media columnist Hank Banish. “We could go from suffering through needless halftime essays from Bob Costas to spending our halftimes staring blankly at neatly pressed undershirts draped over office chairs. And that’s a trade I’m pretty certain all NFL fans would happily make.”