Longtime CBS sports broadcaster James Brown says the Washington NFL team should “Do the right thing” and change its name. In an interview with CBS News’ live symposium, 50 Years Later: Civil Rights, Brown related the debate to the civil rights movement.
“I know people will engage in an argument and say, Well, it hasn’t been an issue all this time,” said Brown, who hosts the shows The NFL Today on CBS and Inside the NFL. “Yeah, well, the civil rights issue was one where ‘That’s just the way it was’ for a long period of time, right? So that holds no basis and substance to me. Do the right thing. You know, a number of years ago, when I was a kid, there was a restaurant chain called Sambo’s, which, as I understand was the last name of two guys who owned the restaurant chain. But it was offensive to black people, so they changed the name, except for the one franchise in California, I believe it was. Well, so, if in fact it’s offensive to Native Americans — and there doesn’t have to be unanimity on this, and don’t just have a intractable attitude saying, I’m not going to change — that’s wrong as far as I’m concerned. I’ll get in trouble with that, but I stand on principle.”
Earlier in the interview (Brown was joined by Whoopi Goldberg and Evan Wolfson), moderator Bob Schieffer put Brown, who is a Washington, D.C. native, on the spot by asking if the name should change.
“Bob, I firmly believe that this is a people issue. If, in fact — to me, this is my opinion only, not representing CBS Sports, or News — if the name is offensive to a group of people, then do the right thing and change the name,” Brown said. “It’s as simple as that.”
In a radio interview with Brown about CBS’s policy on the R-word –in which CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus’s said that it is left up to the individual reporter to decide if they will use the team’s name during broadcast — Brown suggested that CBS executives are “properly sensitive” to the slur.
“It seems to me, again, there is no discomfort among the brain trust in terms of how this is to be done, other than to be properly sensitive,” Brown said. “If there are announcers who will just say ‘Washington,’ then so be it. Or, if they decide to use the nickname, the moniker, there is no issue until this is resolved one way or the other.”