Everyone has an opinion on the name of Washington’s football team. John Madden’s reads as more cryptic than most.
The boss of Madden’s former network, CBS Sports President Sean McManus, recently said he would allow announcers to not say “Redskins” if they found the term offensive. Speaking to Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch, the Super Bowl-winning coach, A-list color commentator, and video-game hero spoke in an oracular manner and changed the subject when the Redskins came up. But if one reads between the lines, Madden appears to be saying he would speak the team’s name on the air as he regularly did for three decades.
“I probably would not get caught up in that stuff and try to do theright thing or whatever you are supposed to do,” Madden says. “You goback to the pronunciation of guys’ names: I always studied and worked onthat because I always thought it was very embarrassing to not knowsomeone’s name or be able to pronounce it properly. I think that’s bad.It’s also bad to mispronounce a name. I think it’s bad to laugh at aname too. I can’t pronounce that so I’m just going to call him ‘Whoops’?That’s not what his name is. So I always tried to do what you weresupposed to do and what is right. Whatever adjustment had to be made Iwould have made.”
Maybe that’s Madden’s way of saying he wants to talk sports, not politics. Retirement clearly hasn’t cooled Madden’s passion for the pigskin. The 78-year-old football legend regularly goes to Raiders games–he attended the Raiders-Redskins scrap last season–and hosts Sunday NFL viewing parties for friends and family on a 7,000-foot sound stage featuring nine 63-inch high-definition televisions. He still loves football. He just doesn’t wish to call the action from the booth any longer, no matter how much others want him to.
Madden’s former broadcast-booth partner Al Michaels offered a more unambiguous response to the Redskins controversy. “I mean all of a sudden–mean, for 70-some odd years this was a zero issue, and then it became an issue,” Michaels said last month. “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.”