Mike Ditka says Redskins name debate is ‘so stupid it’s appalling’


Mike Ditka greets Joe Gibbs after a Bears-Redskins game in 1984. (Ron Edmonds/AP)

CBS Sports broadcaster Phil Simms said Monday the he is considering not using the Redskins name when he calls the “Thursday Night Football” Redskins-Giants game on Sept. 25 because he is sensitive to complaints about the name. Former Chicago Bears coach and ESPN analyst Mike Ditka made it clear that he has no such reservations about using the name in a recent interview with Mike Richman of RedskinsHistorian.com.

“What’s all the stink over the Redskin name?” Ditka said. “It’s so much [expletive] it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Proudskin? This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is.

“Its been the name of the team since the beginning of football. It has nothing to do with something that happened lately, or something that somebody dreamed up. This was the name, period. Leave it alone. These people are silly — asinine, actually, in my opinion.”

Richman suggested that non-Redskins fans and people outside the D.C. area are the ones driving the controversy about the name.

“It’s all the political correct idiots in America, that’s all it is,” Ditka said. “It’s got nothing to do with anything else. We’re going to change something because we can. Hey listen, I went through it in the 60s, too. I mean, come on. Everybody lined up, did this. It’s fine to protest. That’s your right, if you don’t like it, protest. You have a right to do that, but to change the name, that’s ridiculous. Change the Constitution — we’ve got people trying to do that, too, and they’re doing a pretty good job.”

Richman then asked Ditka about Daniel Snyder’s efforts to defend the Redskins name.

“I admire him for it,” Ditka said. “Really, I think it’s tradition, it’s history, it’s part of the National Football League. It was about Sammy Baugh and all the guys who were Redskins way back then. I didn’t think that Lombardi and Halas never had a problem with it, why would all these other idiots have a problem with the name? I’m sorry. I’m not very tolerant when it comes to the liberals who complain about everything.”

NBC Sports play-by-play man Al Michaels took a slightly more measured stance on the Redskins name during an appearance with ESPN’s Colin Cowherd on Tuesday. Cowherd asked Michaels about CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus saying that he will allow the network’s individual announcers, including Simms, to decide whether or not to use the Redskins name during broadcasts this season.

“I can’t speak for them, or what they were told,” Michaels said. “I know that this came up at a press tour that we were a part of in Los Angeles last month. Mark Lazarus, who is the head of NBC Sports, was telling the press that we’re obligated to call the team what they are actually called. We can’t make up another name for them. I suppose you could say Washington and not say Redskins, and that would ameliorate some people and all of that, but you know what Colin, what are we supposed to do at a certain point, when, let’s say 90,000 people, after a touchdown are singing ‘Hail to the Redskins’? Are we supposed to bleep that out?”

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins’ trademark. Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that "may disparage" individuals or groups. Here's a look at the Redskins' logo and team imagery throughout the years. (Tom LeGro and Natalie Jennings/The Washington Post)

In June, Michaels told Showtime’s Jim Rome that the Redskins name debate is “nuts.” He echoed some of those sentiments Tuesday.

“I don’t know where this Redskins thing goes,” he continued with Cowherd. “I do know where Dan Snyder stands on it. I understand both sides of it. You know, the funny thing, too, I was thinking recently about — and I’m sure you remember — do you realize people were offended by the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ 25 or 30 years ago? And the last time I saw an Atlanta Braves game, and the last time I saw a Florida State Seminoles football game, they’re still doing it! Where does it end? I don’t know. You tell me.”

Michaels went on to say that he doesn’t think it’s an announcer’s job to take a stance on the name while calling a game.

“Interestingly, we don’t have the Redskins on the schedule this year,” he said. “We could, because we obviously have the ability to flex into games later in the season. I don’t know. I just haven’t thought about — where will it be at that particular time? You make it a bigger story by making it a story. In my role, as a play-by-play announcer — and I’m not begging the issue here — but my role is to report. People don’t want me to advocate. There’s nothing that can flip the audience off more than a play-by-play guy, in the middle of a game that they’ve tuned into watch and want to enjoy, advocating, or getting up on a soapbox. Maybe you can do that on a pregame show; you can certainly do it on your show. But when I’m doing the game, people have tuned in to watch the game, and that’s what I want to give them.

Graphic: Where people stand on the Redskins’ name

[Click below to expand.]

“I can take a stand in other places, but during the game itself, this is what people want to watch,” Michaels said. “On third-and-four, with two minutes to go from the 10-yard line, they don’t want to hear what any announcer’s take is on anything except what’s going on in the game. Again, I don’t know where this thing winds up. Dan Snyder owns the team. He’s on record as saying what he has said. Again, you’ve got 90,000 people who are going to sing ‘Hail to the Redskins.’ So, it’s a story that I don’t know if it dies, I don’t know what happens, I don’t know if the name gets changed. I just don’t know what happens here. I really don’t.”

Correction: In an earlier version of this blog post, a word was mis-transcribed as “Brownskin” instead of “Proudskin.”

Scott Allen writes about all things D.C. sports. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSAllen or e-mail him if you’ve got a tip to share.
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Scott Allen · August 19

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