Tirico thinks Washington nickname should go, but still will use it

Mike Tirico always is extremely thoughtful in everything he does during a telecast. That goes 10-fold for the Washington nickname controversy.

Yesterday during an ESPN teleconference, he spoke candidly about his views on the Washington nickname issue:


We broadcast a Washington preseason game and then ESPN released a network policy I think it was five days after that game.  So what I followed from that broadcast was my approach, which I had vetted in a conversation with my bosses on site, Jay and Jed Drake, our senior managing person on MNF with us there on site.

There are a bunch of issues here.  I just saw surveys today on SportsCenter, what fans think, what players think.  That doesn’t really matter to me.  I think the most significant issue is what do Native Americans think of the name?  Those people who in my opinion can only truly gauge the impact of (what) using the term really is.  I’ve connected with Syracuse in my college days and early workdays. The Oneida Nation which has been very vocal on this issue and is just a few miles from the campus of Syracuse.  I’ve been aware of the sensitivity of Native Americans and things that are perceived by many Native American communities as slurs for a couple decades now.

In general to me, broadcasting a game is a bit different than working in studio.  When you’re in the studio you’re talking about a team for a pretty limited length of time.  Calling a game for three and a half hours, you might make hundreds of references to it by first name of the city or by nickname.  Also I think to factor in here too all the networks, you broadcast a home game from D.C., from Landover, technically, the word Redskins is painted in the end zone, really the logo with the head dress is in the middle of the field, so by not saying it are you lessening the impact of the nickname?  It’s there in front of you.  I don’t think we’re going to in a computer graphic way blur that out.

There are also contractual issues here with the league.  We have an obligation to use the names and the marks of the teams.  The league sells us the right to do the games and we sign up as part of that as well.  Here’s the bottom line for me.  I have my own personal feelings on the name.  I think it’s time for Dan Snyder and the league together truly take a long look at making a change.

But if I’m there to document the game, and that’s what I’m paid to do and charged with, the body of the game broadcast to me is not the forum or the place to pass judgment on this issue while dancing around 2nd and 5 at the 35 yard line.  I think that’s a little unfair.  So I’m going to do what I did in the preseason game.  The appropriate approach to me is minimize the use of the nickname but not completely avoid it.  I think that’s the approach I’m going to take.  We have Washington twice in early October and late October, and I’m sure this thing will play out in very formal ways over this year and years to come.


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