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Bob Costas on Redskins name: 'Insult,' 'slur'

Bob Costas said Sunday that the Redskins' name is "undeniably" a slur and an insult. (NBC) Bob Costas said Sunday that the Redskins' name is "undeniably" a slur and an insult. (NBC)

NBC's Bob Costas said Sunday night that the Redskins' name was "undeniably" a slur and an insult, weighing in on the controversy in a monologue during halftime of Sunday Night Football.

Costas said he didn't think Redskins owner Dan Snyder or anyone in the organization harbored ill will toward Native Americans. But he added that it's no excuse for keeping the name.

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"Think for a moment about the term 'Redskins,' and how it truly differs from all the others," he said, rifling off the difference between "Redskins" and team names that he said "honor" Native Americans, like Braves, Chiefs, and Warriors.

"Ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed towards African Americans, Hispanics, Asians or any other ethnic group. When considered that way, 'Redskins' can’t possibly honor a heritage or noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present day intent."

Costas became the latest to fuel the fire in a controversy that has reached all the way up to the White House in the past two weeks. Last weekend, President Barack Obama said that he would "think about changing" the team's name if he was its owner.

"I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things," Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

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Here's the full transcript of Costas' monologue, via the Washington Post:

With Washington playing Dallas here tonight, it seems like an appropriate time to acknowledge the ongoing controversy about the name, “Redskins.” Let’s start here: there’s no reason to believe that owner Daniel Snyder, or any official or player from his team, harbors animus towards Native Americans, or chooses to disrespect them. This is undoubtedly also true of the vast majority of those who don’t think twice about the longstanding moniker. And in fact, as best could be determined, even a majority of Native Americans say they are not offended.

But, having stipulated that, there’s still a distinction to be made. Objections to names like Braves, Chiefs, Warriors and the like, strike many of us as political correctness run amuck. These nicknames honor, rather than demean. They’re pretty much the same as Vikings, Patriots, or even Cowboys. And names like Blackhawks, Seminoles and Chippewas, while potentially problematic, can still be okay provided the symbols are appropriately respectful. Which is where the Cleveland Indians, with the combination of their name and Chief Wahoo logo, have sometimes run into trouble.

A number of teams, mostly in the college ranks, have changed their names in response to objections. The Stanford Cardinal and the Dartmouth Big Green were each once the Indians. The St. Johns Redmen are now the Red Storm. And the Miami of Ohio Redskins, that’s right Redskins, are now the RedHawks. Still, the NFL franchise that represents the nation’s capital, has maintained its name.

But think for a moment about the term “Redskins,” and how it truly differs from all the others. Ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed towards African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians or any other ethnic group. When considered that way, “Redskins” can’t possibly honor a heritage or noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present day intent.

It’s fair to say that for a long time now, and certainly in 2013, no offense has been intended. But if you take a step back, isn’t it clear to see how offense might legitimately be taken?

And here's video:

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