Al Michaels, the iconic play-by-play announcer, bluntly told talk-show host Jim Rome that the controversy over the Washington Redskins’ name is “nuts.”
Michaels asserted on Rome’s Showtime program that he had spoken to Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder about the issue last year, and Snyder had said that any change would only occur “over my dead body.” Michaels told Rome:
It seems to me as if he is going to hold on. I mean all of a sudden–mean, for 70-some odd years this was a zero issue, and then it became an issue. I understand we live in this politically correct environment. It’s crazier than ever; you know, senators want to weigh in on this, like there’s nothing better to do in Congress. This becomes a big issue. I mean, I just think it’s nuts. And I do know, I’ve talked to Snyder about it–not recently but when we were in Washington last year–and he basically said ‘over my dead body.’
Fifty Democratic senators in Washington collaborated to write a letter earlier this year to Snyder pushing him to change the team’s name, and to date, Snyder is not budging. As far back as last year, Snyder said, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER–you can use caps.”
The controversy has embroiled numerous athletes who have jumped on the bandwagon calling for a change, including Champ Bailey, London Fletcher, Jason Taylor, Art Monk, Tre Johnson, and Shane Battier. A 60-second spot put out by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation protesting the team’s name aired during Games 2 and 3 of the NBA Finals. It was a shorter version of a video on YouTube placed by the National Congress of American Indians with the caption, “Watch the #BigGame commercial the NFL would never air” that has received more than 2,400,000 hits.