Bob Costas: Redskins Name Undeniably a ‘Slur’

Bob Costas: Redskins Name Undeniably 'Slur'

NBC Sports anchor parses name controversy during 'Sunday Night Football'

NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas weighed in forcefully Sunday on the controversy over the nature of the Washington Redskins’ name, which has stirred debate amid the  NFL team’s refusal to change its moniker.

In his half-time essay segment during NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” telecast of the Redskins-Dallas Cowboys game, Costas parsed the uproar over the Redskins and other sports franchise names that have been seen as insensitive in the modern era to various minority groups.

He noted that some teams have adjusted their names over the year’s in light of modern-day sensitivities, including other teams dubbed “Redskins,” a derogatory term for Native Americans.

Costas, an influential voice in the sports world, acknowledged that the name is used with “benign” intent in the present day by the team and its owner, Daniel Snyder. But he left no doubt about his reasoning on why there is a public campaign to pressure the team to change the name.

“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,” Costas said.

“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?”

Here is a full transcript of Costas’ remarks, provided by NBC:

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 Cardinal 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?

For more on this topic, including Daniel Snyder’s take, go to http://www.nbcsports.com/nickname.

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  1. Gussam2 says:

    I’d like to thank Bob Costas. Most people never met a real Indian. I went to technical school with one, and happened to sit next to her when we went to a movie. The previews showed cowboys and “savages”. I wanted to crawl under the seat. Most people would have to admit that a Cleveland Afro with blackface, an afro and grinny buck teeth would be very offensive to blacks and others. Real Indians are real people. (I’m not a liberal, and this is the only thing I agree with Obama on)

  2. This small man can have whatever opinion hew ants about whatever topic he deems to be important. However, I don’t believe he has acquired an audience to hear about his views on politics. Hey, Little Bob, shut up and report about sports like you’re paid to do.
    http://cultureofweakness.wordpress.com/

  3. Ken Pittman says:

    What the liberal Bob Costas, doesn’t understand is the intent of the team name is to imply that it is one to be respected and one of which to be wary of defeat. The Irish do not take offense but take pride in the Notre Dame “Fighting Irish” team name. Redskins is an established non-slur and Costas, who wore brown socks in gym class and knows next to nothing about sports competition, should have his absurd little editorial spot taken from him so a person with a clue about what sports fans want to hear, can be listened to. But this is what NBC does with its one game of the week; force feed PC crap on its viewers. Costas does remind me of one thing when he airs each week…that its time to get a beer and a snack if not switch to the NFL channel for earlier game recaps.

    • He makes the connection between team names like Vikings, Patriots and Cowboys (implying names like Fighting Irish are included) within his comments. What he’s articulating is that Redskins is a derogatory term, and always has been. Similar to how the Fighting Irish could have been called the Drunken Micks. Or if a team was named the Faggots or the Niggers. Words I would never use and hopefully you wouldn’t either.

    • Jon says:

      Why do you have a comma after “Costas”? That’s just absurd.

  4. richard collier4 says:

    This is the second time Bob Costa had used football for his political views. Gun control and how a name. He needs to be kicked off ESPN. Will not watch him again.

  5. Joyce anderson says:

    I will not watch any thing Bob is commenting on from here on out. Keep politics out of our sports. Come on NBC he now really needs to go.

  6. Ron Norman says:

    Bob Costas the village idiot!

  7. Poopy Campo says:

    What concern’s me even more is that NBC would plan and then produce this “rant” without a disclaimer. Ohhh, I forgot. We don’t do that anymore, do we? Networks can simply freely inject their rhetoric into the programming we watch. It’s not just Costas that needs to extricate his head! NBC is notorious for this, and the other networks aren’t far behind. Why can’t I be informed that a commentary about a topic follows, and give me the opportunity to change the channel. (That won’t happen, will it?)

    I won’t ever watch a game that Mr. Costas calls again, and believe he and NBC should be severely censured by the NFL.

    Please speak up on this topic….

  8. djpooleATX says:

    If you ask me, the biggest ‘insult’ is whatever that is supposed to be on top of Bob’s head. Keep your opinions to yourself, guy.

  9. Matt says:

    Bob Costas needs to knock off his political pandering to the president and the “political correctless” crowd.and just call football plays and perhaps share his analysis of the game.. He’s been around a while and he is certainly capable of that.

    What he fails to remember is that the Washington Redskins were just fine for all these years he was privileged to have made money off calling their games. Now, all of a sudden, Costas thinks anyone give a flying leap about his position on gun control or the long established name of a sports team? His arrogance may now superseded by his Narcissistic characteristics.

    We don’t care Bob! Go back to calling games and keep your opinions to yourself!

  10. djpooleATX says:

    Bob Costas is a huge douchebag. Why is this all of a sudden a HUGE issue?

  11. terri voelkel says:

    Bob Costas acts like he has the right to open his mouth about subject like this – he needs to shut up. He is not the voice of anything and I am sick of people trying to force this issue. He gets the ‘just shut up award’

    • Georgianna Burkett says:

      I have great respect for the Indian nation. Please keep your opinion off the game day broadcasts. We are watching to see the game and not to hear you preach.

  12. KG says:

    What Botox Bob failed to mention is that the NCAA forced many of these colleges to changes their names. That’s very different from changing a team name due to altruistic purposes. This entire controversy is just more of the same Frankfort School horse malarkey we’ve been idly putting up with for many years. I hope the Redskins team owner sticks to his guns and keeps the name.

  13. Jack says:

    Stick to baseball Costas…..and get off your soapbox,…….or we’ll start playing the song
    “Short People” whenever ur in public.

  14. KC says:

    Now Bob Costas with his comments on the Washington Redskins name has gone to far. Most of the native americans haven’t even given a thought about this. In fact going across the indian reservation in northern Arizona, there is a high school team who are the Redskins.
    I lived in VA. for 23 years and my husband was born in D.C. The Washington Redskins have had that name for umpteem years and now because of President Obama sticking his nose in this instead of trying to run the country, it has become a big thing.
    Leave the Redskins along and Bob maybe you should look for another occupation. You should keep to the sports and leave this one alone. You seem to be sticking your foot in your mouth in many ways lately.

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