THE POLITICALLY CORRECT SCRIMMAGE LINE
Another precinct has been heard from in the great National Football League divide, and, quite frankly, I don’t know where I stand.
It would be a bit hypocritical at this point to suddenly become politically correct when, for more than half a century, I had no problem with the name of the Washington Redskins. I never thought about it until it became all the political correctness rage, but I’m not a native American. Somebody this week cited a poll that shows 80% of native Americans aren’t offended by the name. Where do these polls come from?
This week two well known network television NFL commentators entered the conversation, CBS’s top analyst and former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms and NBC analyst and former NFL coach Tony Dungy saying they will make every effort to refer to the team just as ‘Washington’, refraining from using the team nickname.
“My first thought is it will be ‘Washington’ the whole game”, said Simms, who then admitted that he, like me, hadn’t really given it much thought until recently. “It came up and it made me think about it”, Simms said, adding, “I am sensitive to this”.
For his part, Dungy said “I will personally try not to use ‘Redskins’ and refer to them as ‘Washington’. Personal opinion from me, not the network.”
So far the networks have been mum on the subject but a third party was heard from yesterday, from a third network, and it’s safe to say ESPN’s Mike Ditka, the former NFL star and Chicago Bears coach, is not on the same page with Simms and Dungy. Ditka thinks the whole issue should be left alone and political correctness has crossed the line.
“This is so stupid it’s appalling”, he said in an interview with the website redskinshistorian.com, “I hope the owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of American football history and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins.”
A conservative, and no shrinking violet, Ditka continued, “We’re going to let the liberals run this world. It’s all the political correct idiots in America, that’s all it is. (Redskins) was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American indian. It’s got nothing to do with anything else.”
In a way, I agree with Ditka. Too much political correctness is dictated by outsiders who aren’t personally invested in an issue. I don’t know where I stand, but I believe for the moment this should be a dialogue between team owner Daniel Snyder and native American groups, with no outside pressure. Snyder says he’s met with many such groups and the majority are supportive of the name. Native Americans and Snyder, more than anyone else, have claims to the name and are more emotionally invested in it that those who try to insert themselves into this battle from the sidelines. I’ll be happy to go along with any agreement they reach.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.