Maury Povich comes by his D.C. sports fandom honestly. He was a Senators batboy in the 1940s. He worked for local broadcasting legend Bob Wolff in the 1950s. His dad is on the Mount Rushmore of D.C. sports media — along with Wilbon, Kornheiser, George Michael, Sam Lacy, Ken Beatrice, and wait this Mount Rushmore has too many names — and he worked in sports at WTTG early in his broadcasting career.
Then he moved on, and became super famous. And it turns out he moved on at least partly because of George Allen.
Povich explained what happened this week, when SportsTalk 570’s Andy Pollin asked whether today’s media landscape might have convinced Povich to remain in sports.
“You know, Andy, it’s a very interesting question,” Povich said. “I mean, I might, because believe it or not, at least there’s more expression today when it comes to sports. I mean, I’ll give you a perfect example. I’m covering sports in Washington in the early 70s, and George Allen is the coach of the Redskins. And I go into the locker room one time after a game, and there’s a press conference, and I see these two bottles of pills.
“And I said to George, to Coach Allen, I said ‘Coach, what are these pills for?’ And he said to me, ‘Were you with us or against us?’ And it was at that moment I said, if this is what sports is — I mean, if you have to declare loyalty in order to cover sports — I think I might be out of here.
“So then I started to concentrate on news,” Povich said. “But I think today, you all can express yourselves. And I don’t think there’s a lot of homers in the business anymore.”
Maybe. But I can say for sure, at least once or twice a week — and often far more — I get asked by Redskins fans whether I am with them or against them. Typically, I answer “Mango Smoothie.” But for sure, people are still asking that question.
Pollin and Povich also shared stories about Shirley Povich, with a predicable ending.
“The other question I would ask you about your dad — who was always far ahead of everybody else when it came to race issues, and wrote about integrating baseball in the 1930s… — how do you think he would feel about the controversy over the Redskins name these days?” Pollin asked.
“You know, I’ve thought about that,” Maury Povich said. “I think initially, at first blush, I think he would say ‘Well if it was such a bad thing, why wasn’t there more reaction earlier in the Redskins’ lifetime? Where was it in the ’40s and the ’50s, and even the 60s and the 70s, when civil rights became such a big topic in the country?’ But I think the more he would think about it, the more he would say, well, you know, maybe it is time.’
And I’ll tell you this: I know that Dan Snyder wants to continue the name, but I will tell you, there’s a lot of talk of him trying to get a stadium back in Washington. If he does that — if they put a new stadium up on the grounds of RFK, and there’s federal money or city money there — he’s going to have to suffer the same thing that George Preston Marshall suffered in 1961 with RFK Stadium, that he had to desegregate his football team in order to play. And so maybe they’ll hold Dan’s feet to the fire on this, too.
Povich, by the way, is a gigantic Nats fan.
“Oh boy are they good,” he told Pollin. “I mean, I follow them every single day. And with all the apps and the mobility, I mean, I’m following them inning by inning. In fact, last year , I bought season tickets to the Mets just to see the Nationals play nine times.”
(Povich was on the radio to promote a Tuesday night panel he’s moderating at the University of Maryland concerning racism in sports. The other panelists include Wilbon, Scott Van Pelt, Kara Lawson and Kevin Blackistone. See more here.)