The September 25 showdown between the Washington Redskins and New York Giants might end up getting as much attention for what is happening in the broadcast booth as what is happening on the field.
On Monday, CBS football analyst Phil Simms announced he is not planning to use the term ‘Redskins’ on air this year. The only problem? He is set to call the Thursday night Redskins/Giants game in September.
“My very first thought is it will be ‘Washington’ the whole game,” Simms told The Associated Press. “I never really thought about it, and then it came up and it made me think about it… There are a lot of things that can come up in a broadcast, and I am sensitive to this.”
Simms offers color commentary for CBS and his play-by-play counterpart, Jim Nantz, does not intend to follow his lead. According to the AP, Nantz said it is “not my job to take a stance.”
Over on NBC, Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy is following Simms’ lead. Unlike Simms, however, Dungy will most likely not call a Redskins game this season.
"I will personally try not to use Redskins and refer to them as Washington," Dungy told the AP in an email. "Personal opinion for me, not the network."
The topic of the Redskins has come up many times over the last couple of months. In June, the United States Patent Office ruled the Washington Redskins federal trademarks for its name must be canceled because the moniker is “disparaging of Native Americans.” In interview with Glenn after the ruling, Redskins trademark attorney Bob Raskopf maintained the team’s ownership has no plans to cave to pressure.
On radio this morning, Pat, Stu, and Jeffy discussed the ramifications of Simms and Dungy’s decision. If this trend catches on, what does the future hold for teams like the Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves, Golden State Warriors, Florida Seminoles, etc.?
“This is getting absolutely absurd now,” Pat said.
Stu considered what the backlash would be if a reporter covering the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri got on the air and refused to refer to the Brown or the police by their names. Such action would not be tolerated, and yet CBS is seemingly looking the other way when it comes to the Redskins.
“If you had a reporter [covering] Michael Brown [who] said, ‘I'm not going to say the words Michael Brown. I'm just going to say the teen… [or] if you thought the police were wrong in this case and you said, ‘I'm not going to call them the police. I'm going to call them the oppressors,’” Stu said. “Wait a minute, that's taking a stance in the middle of coverage. That's not something you're supposed to do.”
While Simms is at CBS in an analyst role that requires him to offer his opinion, Stu still thinks it sets a bad precedent.
“To Simms’ defense, he is the color commentator… so I honestly… don't care. But it's silly,” Stu said. “It is not a racist term. It was not formed that way. It was the first usage of the term was by Native Americans. The team itself did it to honor Native Americans for its own coach.”
Last fall, Glenn had his team put together a video that chronicles the history of the term Redskins and sheds some light on where public opinion really stands on the issue:
“If [the Redskins] cave, don't think that's the end of it,” Pat concluded. “They will go after every other name that can even be remotely offensive. “