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CBS officiating expert Mike Carey is still always wrong, even during the Super Bowl

In the first quarter, Carey said a call should be reversed. It wasn't.

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Forget Cam Newton, Peyton Manning or any other Broncos or Panthers playing in Super Bowl 50. No one should be have been more nervous about being forced to perform in front of more than 100 million viewers than CBS Sports rules analyst Mike Carey.

In the first quarter, Panthers coach Ron Rivera challenged an incomplete pass to Jerricho Cotchery. Carey said during the challenge, "If I was in the booth, I would reverse this call." Naturally, the call stood, adding to Carey's dubious reputation.

How exactly Carey morphed from one of the league's most respected and accomplished officials into the bumbling broadcaster we see on TV every week is mystifying. Carey is a man who reached the top of his craft. He spent 24 seasons as an NFL referee. According to the website Football Zebras, he worked 17 postseason game and one Super Bowl (XLII), where he became the first African American to do so.

He was hired by CBS in the summer of 2014 following his decision to retire. Four years earlier FOX Sports had brought in former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira as a broadcaster and declared him their "rules expert." The move was a resounding success. Pereira was articulate and informed. His presence enhanced FOX's coverage and helped lend some clarity to the NFL's increasingly complex and bizarre rules.

CBS took notice and realized they needed a Pereira of their own. When Carey announced four years later that he'd be hanging up his zebra uniform, the network figured they had finally found its man.

"I've been a fan of Mike's for years and during games," CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus told Sports Illustrated Richard Deitsch in June 2014. "I would often turn to [CBS Sports executive producer and senior vice president of production] Harold Bryant in the studio and say, 'Boy, if he ever retires, he would be a great in-studio analyst.'"

On paper, the move looked great. As an NFL official, Carey had spent years working in front and for television cameras. He knew the announcers, broadcasters and, most importantly, the rules.

But CBS might have glossed over some details in their pursuit of Carey.

"Pereira went from being the vice president of officials to TV," says Ben Austro, the author of So You Think You Know Football: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules and the managing editor and founder of Football Zebras. "That meant that on TV he was explaining rules that were essentially being determined based on his interpretations from the year before.

"Now everything is really based on the interpretations of (current NFL VP of officiating) Dean (Blandino), who's more hands-on than other guys have been in the past. So it's definitely an added layer for Carey."

Austro also pointed out that while Carey was a "good official" during his tenure with the NFL he did, at times, stumble when it came to the replay process, which is essentially what his entire job is now.

Before the Super Bowl, McManus was asked about Carey during a conference call and used it as an opportunity to publicly support the man he recruited just two years ago.

"The vast majority of the calls that Mike has made have been correct," McManus told reporters, via USA Today, adding later: "Having said that, there have been a couple of big situations where Mike has disagreed with the end result that the officials have made. Mike has perhaps gone out on a limb more than he should in trying to guess or speculate what a call will be, but all he is giving is his opinion of what he would call if he were on the field. And if it's a different result, I think people get frustrated. But I think people would understand that Mike is only giving his opinion."

Technically McManus is correct. Carey is right more often that not; USA Today went back and reviewed all his calls from the season. According to its findings, Carey correctly predicted calls on replays 90 percent of the time. That might sound like a good number, that is until you realize that Pereira actually nailed 98 percent of his calls during his first year in the booth.

Also, evaluating Carey's performance by looking just at his prediction misses the whole point of his job.

"I'm happy with how I've synced up with New York," Carey said to a reporters on a conference call this week, via Pro Football Talk. That that's all he, and clearly CBS, care about is why he's running into issues. Viewers don't want guesses from him; they want clarity and information. It's okay if Carey disagrees with a replay decision but he needs to articulate why. Broadcasting is clearly not his specialty, but his clumsy explanations aren't doing anyone any favors.

For example, here he is filming a taped segment.

Again, that segment is taped, and yet it seems like Carey was just woken up 10 minutes ago and tossed in front of a camera with a script he'd never seen before.

A similar thing happened during the Seahawks' Nov. 30 win over the Steelers.

With just under two minutes left in the game Seattle safety Kam Chancellor bounded towards the right sideline to pick off an errant Ben Roethlisberger pass. He bobbled the ball a bit in the air before coming down along the sidelines with the ball in tucked into his chest.

Immediately Carey was called into action. Below is what he had to say, courtesy of The Big Lead.

Nantz: Mike, what do you see on this one?

Carey: This is one that really, talk about dual possession. There was not dual possession coming in, but when the receiver hits the ground, and the defender comes in, the ball comes loose, he is out of bounds, when the ball is loose, that ball should be incomplete at that spot.

Simms: Wow. That is ...

Nantz: How about that?

Simms: I honestly have never heard that. And we work hard at this.

Nantz: So Mike, look at this, the play is still alive right here.

Carey: He has to maintain control when he hits the ground ...

Simms: He's still got control ...

Carey: Both players have the ball, and the ball comes loose. It's kind of survival of the fittest. The ball comes loose, it should be an incomplete pass. If I was ruling, that's what ...

Nantz: Is this an easy one for Blandino and Walton, what do you think? Mike?

[Camera returns to field as ruling is announced]

Referee: The ruling on the field of an interception stands. First down.

Nantz: So Mike, what did they see that you didn't see?

Carey: Well, what they went with is that they believe there wasn't enough clear evidence. But we didn't see clear control when he hit the ground. Both players, their hands are on it, and the receiver must maintain control when he goes out of bounds. When the ball comes loose at this point, it's being ripped away from the defender. That should be incomplete in my opinion.

You can listen to the whole thing here. The best part is hearing Nantz and Simms repeatedly try to throw him a lifeboat, only he refuses to grab on. The explanation is clumsy. The prediction is wrong. Darwinism is evoked for some reason. The whole thing is just a mess.

But Carey's most high-profile mishap came two weeks ago during the AFC Championship following this incomplete pass from Peyton Manning.

Now you could be a blind dog and realize that pass traveled backward. Everyone knew the play would be ruled a fumble -- everyone that is except Carey, who added that the play was "clearly" a lateral.

"The pass was backward," Ed Hochuli announced just moments later. "Therefore the recovery by New England gives New England the ball."

It was a moment the Internet certainly enjoyed, and likely the one which led to McManus this week calling some of the criticism of Carey "very hurtful," which seems like a weak attempt to change the conversation.

Most of the criticism directed at Carey centers around his repeated failures in his very public job. There's nothing unfair about that. There's a reason McManus was asked about Carey, just as there's a reason you could bet on whether Carey would be wrong about a challenge during the Super Bowl.

Him bungling a call or an interpretation has become a weekly tradition and he's now tasked with informing the public during what will likely be the most watched television show ever. It's still early, but he's already batting .000.

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