Bob Costas weighed into the Redskins name-change debate on Sunday, adding himself to the growing chorus of people calling for the NFL team to consider altering its name and not offend the Native American community.
Speaking at halftime during the Sunday Night Football game between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, Costas called the Redskins’ name a "slur" and an "insult," and asked his viewers if such a term would be tolerated if it were directed against other minorities such a African-Americans and Hispanics.
"Ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed towards African Americans, Hispanics, Asians or any other ethnic group," Costas said in his two-and-a-half minute monologue. "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."
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Costas also contrasted the team name to others sports teams that use Native American terms and tribe names, such as MLB's Atlanta Braves, the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs, and NBA's Golden State Warriors, which he says "honor rather than demean," Native American culture.
With his remarks on Sunday, Costas joined a growing number of people who have sympathized with the objections raised by some in the Native American community
calling for the Redskins to consider revising their team name, which include President Barack Obama.
In an interview earlier this month, Obama told the Associated Press
that the Redskins should "think about changing" their name considering it offends "a sizable group of people."
In his monologue, Costas did however point out that most Native Americans were not offended by the Redskins' name, and that the team's owner Daniel Snyder was not a bigot in any form despite his refusal to bend to political correct pressure and agree to change the name.
"There’s no reason to believe that owner Daniel Snyder, or any official or player from his team, harbors animus towards Native Americans, or chooses to disrespect them," Costas said. "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 could be determined, even a majority of Native Americans say they are not offended."
In his determination that the Redskins' should take into consideration the objections from those who were insulted by their name, Costas also discussed Native American objections to the Cleveland Indians baseball team, "with the combination of their name and Chief Wahoo logo."
The Indians' logo features a smiling Native American with a feather in his hair and exaggerated features in a manner that many perceive as being derogatory.
Costas concluded his monologue by telling viewers, "It’s 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?"
Just how much of an affect the pressure from Costas and others is having on the Redskins' franchise is unclear, considering that earlier this month, Snyder wrote an open letter to The Washington Post
in which he pointed out that the majority of fans don't want a change while explaining his reason for being opposed to it.
"Our franchise has a great history, tradition and legacy representing our proud alumni and literally tens of millions of loyal fans worldwide," Snyder wrote. "We have participated in some of the greatest games in NFL history, and have won five World Championships. We are proud of our team and the passion of our loyal fans. Our fans sing 'Hail to the Redskins' in celebration at every Redskins game."
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