NBC’s Costas Comes Out Against Redskins Team Name

Bob Costas thinks it's time to retire the Redskins team name and logo (inset). (Photos: NBC, Getty Images)

It might not be in the best of taste to characterize Bob Costas as being on the “warpath” about the Redskins team name, and it’s possibly not an accurate characterization either.

However, the NBC Sports personality made his opinion on the issue crystal clear Sunday night: The Redskins name has to go.

Costas used his weekly sports “essay” segment — in which he recites a self-styled “editorial” on a sports-related topic during halftime of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” telecasts — to announce where he stands on the issue of the Redskins team name.

The game happened to be a Washington Redskins game against Dallas in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys won 31-16.

A debate over the appropriateness of the Redskins name — whether it is derogatory to Native-Americans, and whether Native-Americans themselves are sufficiently offended by it to force a change — has been ongoing for years.

It seems to have gained steam recently though, most notably in the wake of President Obama coming out against the name at a news conference earlier this month.

Costas apparently agrees with the president. “It’s an insult [and] a slur,” Costas said, siding with those who would have the team pick a new, less-offensive name.

That characterization came near the end of Costas’ essay, in the piece’s concluding paragraph. To put it in the proper context, here’s the full text of Costas’ essay about the Redskins:

“With Washington playing Dallas here tonight, it seems like an appropriate time to acknowledge the ongoing controversy about the name ‘Redskins.’

“Let’s start here. There is no reason to believe that owner Daniel Snyder, or any official or player from his team, harbors animus toward Native Americans or wishes to disrespect them. This is undoubtedly also true of the vast majority of those who don’t think twice about the longstanding moniker. And in fact, as best can be determined, even a majority of Native Americans say they are not offended.

“But, having stipulated that, there’s still a distinction to be made. Objections to names like ‘Braves,’ ‘Chiefs,’ ‘Warriors,’ and the like strike many of us as political correctness run amok. These nicknames honor, rather than demean. They are pretty much the same as ‘Vikings,’ ‘Patriots,’ or even ‘Cowboys.’ And names like ‘Blackhawks,’ ‘Seminoles’ and ‘Chippewas,’ while potentially more problematic, can still be okay provided the symbols are appropriately respectful – which is where the Cleveland Indians with the combination of their name and ‘Chief Wahoo’ logo have sometimes run into trouble.

“A number of teams, mostly in the college ranks, have changed their names in response to objections. The Stanford Cardinals and the Dartmouth Big Green were each once the Indians; the St. John’s Redmen have become the Red Storm, and the Miami of Ohio Redskins – that’s right, Redskins – are now the Red Hawks.

“Still, the NFL franchise that represents the nation’s capital has maintained its name. But think for a moment about the term ‘Redskins,’ and how it truly differs from all the others. Ask yourself what the equivalent would be, if directed toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or members of any other ethnic group.

“When considered that way, ‘Redskins’ can’t possibly honor a heritage, or noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent. It is fair to say that for a long time now, and certainly in 2013, no offense has been intended. But, if you take a step back, isn’t it clear to see how offense “might” legitimately be taken?”

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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