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ESPN’s Tom Jackson says he may follow Tony Dungy in refusing to use Redskins name

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Longtime ESPN NFL analyst Tom Jackson became the latest prominent broadcaster to wade into the Redskins name issue Friday morning on ESPN Radio.

Jackson, a studio analyst on “Sunday NFL Countdown” who is entering his 28th season for ESPN, was asked about the issue Friday morning by Cris Carter, who was filling in on “Mike & Mike.”

“Tom is my mentor,” Carter said of Jackson. “When we have tough subjects, a lot of times I call him or we get together, and I try to figure out a way to attack it. So Tommy, this is new: How are we going to go about treating Daniel Snyder and the Washington … in moving forward?”

[Yes, Carter said “the Washington …"]

“CC, I’ve given this a lot of thought, because I am certainly going to be sensitive to the issue that has come up about the Redskin name,” Jackson said. “And my final thought on it was, you know what, I don’t have the right to tell Native Americans what’s insulting to them. I don’t have the right to do that. And I don’t think that anybody’s who’s not Native American can tell Native Americans what’s insulting to them.

“So quite frankly, when I hear Daniel Snyder or I hear the commissioner of the National Football League say that the term is something that they are using to honor Native Americans, if Native Americans feel that way, so be it,” Jackson said. “But if they feel that it’s an insult, then it’s an insult. I really commend [former official] Mike Carey for doing what he did. That had to be a difficult thing.

“I’ve also heard that Tony Dungy is going to refuse to use the name Redskins on air, and I may in fact follow suit. It’s hard for me to believe that — again, I don’t want to overuse the term — but it’s hard for me to believe that Native Americans see that as a term of endearment and respect.”

Dungy told the AP in recent days that he “will personally try not to use Redskins and refer to them as Washington.” CBS’s Phil Simms told the AP that his instincts are not to use the term. CBS’s James Brown said: “If the name is offensive to a group of people, then do the right thing and change the name. It’s as simple as that.”

ESPN’s Mike Ditka, on the other hand, said the debate “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.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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