On the eve of Columbus Day, NBC sports commentator Bob Costas used “Sunday Night Football’s” match-up between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys as an opportunity to weigh in on the controversy surrounding the former team’s name, calling it “an insult” and “a slur.”
In an AP interview last week, President Obama suggested that Redskins owner Dan Snyder should “consider changing the name” because of its potential to offend. Costas reiterated Obama’s comments, explaining why the name is derogatory at its core:
Objections to names like Braves, Chiefs, Warriors and the like, strike many of us as political correctness run amuck. These nicknames honor, rather than demean. They’re pretty much the same as Vikings, Patriots, or even Cowboys. And names like Blackhawks, Seminoles and Chippewas, while potentially 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. Johns Redmen are now the Red Storm. And the Miami of Ohio Redskins, that’s right Redskins, are now the RedHawks. 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 towards African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians or 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.
But some Redskins fans and conservatives who were preparing for a sermon have responded by insulting Costas, further marginalizing Native Americans, or dismissing Costas’ commentary as self-righteous ranting. Here are some of the worst reactions from Twitter:
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story included a tweet by Peyton’s Head, a parody Twitter account, which was meant to mock the outrage directed towards Bob Costas.