The Washington Redskins may not change the name of their team, yet at least, though NFL announcers may soon choose for themselves whether to say it or not on TV. CBS Sports chairman, Sean McManus, acknowledged the outcry from many groups and Native Americans alike calling for the team to change its nickname. Like a good journalist would, McManus has refused to take a side on the matter; leaving it up to his game commentators whether or not they wanted to say “Redskins” on the air.
In an interview published on Wednesday, discussing football in general, McManus was asked about the name change and the pressure team owner Dan Snyder is facing from political groups. Intensity on the nickname change has reached “a hotter level” and it will ultimately be up to the production team whether they say Redskins on air or not. If he feels as if there is a need to step up and tell his announcers whether or not to say it, he will; though there is a lot of time between now and the start of football season to figure it out. McManus has always let his announcers have free reign to say whatever they want during games, it looks like he’ll keep it that way.
Certain Native Americans consider the term Redskin to be a pejorative term to define the skin pigment of an entire group of people. Snyder has stated that his team’s name is “a badge of honor” and was never meant to be a derogatory label. Many Americans aren’t convinced, including 50 U.S. Senators – all Democrats – who urged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to change the name because “racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports.”
If the NFL announcers are told that they’re not allowed to say the Washington D.C. NFL franchise’s name on air, it’s hard to imagine what they’ll be called besides the Redskins. The “Skins” seems like the most reasonable compromise if it ever got to that point, though it would probably become annoying after hearing it after four long quarters of play (or try explaining to a non-fan why RGIII’s team name is so odd).
For now, Snyder will not be forced to change his team’s name nor will CBS announcers be banned from saying the word, though there’s a federal judge in Maryland who will not allow the word “Redskins” be said in his courtroom. Senior District Judge Peter J. Messitte of Greenbelt has made a clear stance on the issue by disallowing the “R-word” to be said in his courtroom. During a court session last week that’s being called Barrett Green vs. The Washington Redskins, a lawsuit unrelated to the team name or a call to change it, Judge Messitte wrote the following in a footnote:
"Pro Football's team is popularly known as the Washington ‘Redskins,’ but the Court will refrain from using the team name unless reference is made to a direct quote where the name appears. Pro Football's team will be referred to hereafter simply as 'the Washington Team.'"
While the judge’s opinion won’t affect anything from the trademark standpoint, it surely adds to public argument. Snyder shows no sign of backing away from keeping the team’s name as the Redskins, stating that an “overwhelming majority” of Native Americans support keeping it as it is.