Bob Costas: I Feel 'Uncomfortable' Saying 'Redskins'

On Thursday, NBC sportscaster Bob Costas said he feels uncomfortable saying the word "Redskins" and claimed he was not a liberal and that his commentary about the Redskins on Sunday Night Football was not injecting politics. 

He also said his commentary "unleashed a tsunami of unreasonable, over the top, ad hominem attacks" that he said "comes with the territory.”

Appearing on Sports Talk 570, Costas said he, for his own part, has tried to "avoid saying Redskins, because I just felt uncomfortable with it. I know that I’ve slipped a few times. But by and large, I’ve tried to avoid it.”

He then explained why he made his comments during Sunday Night Football in which he said the "Redskins" name was a "slur" and "an insult."

“Well, the Oneida Nation has registered some protests,” Costas said, according to the DC Sports Bog blog. “They’ve asked to meet with league officials. Somebody asked President Obama about it. He didn’t mention it gratuitously — he answered the question, he didn’t bring the subject up himself. When the president addresses it, then it brings additional attention to it. There have been some columns written of late. So as I said, the issue bubbled to the surface."

He emphasized that he thought the Redskins name "is an injustice – and if this is an injustice, let’s be realistic, it’s a MILD one. Just because I addressed it doesn’t mean I think it’s the most important thing in the world."

"It’s far from the most important issue facing the National Football League, it’s far from the most important issue facing Native Americans, who face very serious issues," he said

He criticized cable television, talk radio and the blogosphere for attacking him as a liberal, which he denied he was.

"For example, a good portion of people who have commented on this think I’m some sort of doctrinaire liberal left-wing guy, which people who know me would be very surprised to hear," he said. "So that sort of thing is discouraging. Not to me personally, but the way the discourse in the country is now, there’s less of a chance to have a nuanced conversation about the issues.”

Costas then said the "idea that this was somehow injecting politics — that it’s akin to talking about Syria or the debt limit at halftime — is ridiculous. This is a football-related issue."

“Now, it may have some political overtones; people perceive it as being a matter of political correctness or liberalism vs. conservatism, but I didn’t see it that way at all," he said. "And in fact, my whole plea here was to not look at this as political correctness. Political correctness, by and large, is dopey. It runs against common sense, and it keeps us from having honest conversations about real issues and creates needless double standards that rightly annoy people. People rightly roll their eyes at political correctness. But this is not that."

Costas said he consulted five dictionaries and "all five dictionaries I consulted define Redskins as pejorative, derogatory, insulting, offensive. Those were the four words used. None of those words — NONE — are part of any definition of Braves or Chiefs or any other team name associated with Native Americans."

"You might want to reconsider some of the logos or some of the other things, but the names themselves are not offensive. The name Redskins, by definition, is," Costas said. "I also went out of my way in the commentary to say that I don’t think that 99 percent of the people who utter the terms Redskins and who root for the Redskins if that’s the case, they have no racial or ethnic bias behind it. They just don’t think about it."


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