Several NFL announcers have, in recent days, grappled with whether or not they will say “Redskins” during their broadcasts this season. CBS’s Greg Gumbel apparently resolved that issue three years ago, without anyone noticing.
The play-by-play man told at least two interviewers in recent days that he hasn’t said Washington’s team name on air for three years.
“I was just telling someone the other day, and I told our PR department, I haven’t said the name on the air in three years,” Gumbel told Paul M. Banks. (Listen to the conversation here.) “I just didn’t feel the need to call a news conference and announce it. Just my personal choice. And would I feel any differently if I owned the team? I don’t know. But I do think that they have a PR gap to jump, and whether they will make that jump or not remains to be seen.
“I specifically asked the commissioner about it in our meeting [earlier this month],” Gumbel went on. “And he says that he likes the effort that Daniel Snyder has made. I think he mentioned [Snyder] visited 26 Indian reservations. And the response from most of them has been positive, not negative. So whether it’s one of those things that’s being overblown or not, it’s difficult to say, and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.
“I asked the commissioner about it, because I wondered at what point does it become a league issue rather than just an issue of the Washington franchise,” Gumbel said. “And Roger [Goodell] says there’s no way of knowing. But it’s one of those things that bears watching, obviously.”
I’m not sure the last time Gumbel broadcast a Redskins game, but he definitely did the loss to the Patriots near the end of the 2011 season, which would fall within this three-year time frame. I watched (and wrote about) that TV broadcast, and didn’t notice anything unusual, which probably indicates that broadcasters could eliminate the name rather unobtrusively.
(Also in that game: Brandon Banks threw a left-handed touchdown pass (Brandon Banks!), and Jabar Gaffney jumped into the laps of some Patriots fans, and someone named David Anderson caught a Rex Grossman touchdown.)
Anyhow, Banks also asked Gumbel to predict when there might be a change.
“I have no idea. I have no idea if there will be changes,” Gumbel said. “There may not be. There are people who may live with it. Just as there are people who find it offensive, there are people who don’t find it offensive. Now whether that’s because they’re used to it or not, I don’t know. But the fact is you’ve got to have probably enough finding it offensive in order to engineer a change.
“Was it intended to be a slur? I don’t know,” Gumbel said. “Is it still intended to be a slur? Don’t know that either. It’s like you heard Sean [McManus] say, he’s left it up to us as a matter of choice. And as I say, I’ve made my choice over the last three years. I don’t think it’s going to change, but you know, it’s one of those things.”
“Well, I do know the man who founded the team was racist, segregationist, so if you consider the source….” Banks said.
“So were the people who founded this country for that matter,” Gumbel interrupted. “Slave owners, they’re the ones who wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence. But you know, things have a way of fluctuating with the times, and I have no doubt that this whole thing has come about with the whole era of political correctness.
“And I’m just one person with one thought about it,” Gumbel said. “I don’t mean to stand for other people. But we’ll see how it plays out. And obviously, if it continues to build, then they have a decision to make in Washington. If it doesn’t continue to build and if it kind of goes by the wayside, then things will stay the way they are. It’s that simple.”
Gumbel also discussed the issue with NJ.com’s Dom Cosentino.
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