BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — CBS won’t dictate to its announcers whether or not to use the nickname of Washington’s NFL franchise during televised games this season.
CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said Thursday he hasn’t told on-air talent such as Jim Nantz and Phil Simms what to say regarding the controversy surround the Redskins’ name.
“We don’t tell our announcers what to say about any topic,” McManus told the summer TV critics’ meeting. “That is true about team names also. We haven’t made any specific plans as far as the name. We’re looking at it, but right now we don’t have any change in our plan.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell added, “We don’t dictate to our broadcast partners how they cover the game. That’s their decision.”
Washington owner Dan Snyder has vowed not to change the name, but is facing unprecedented opposition from those who consider it a racial slur.
CBS is launching Thursday night coverage of NFL games this fall in a one-year agreement with the league. CBS will air eight games that also will be simulcast on NFL Network, which will televise eight games in the run-up to the playoffs. The mix of games will include 14 on Thursday nights and two late-season games on Saturday. The schedule kicks off Sept. 11 with Pittsburgh at Baltimore.
The full slate of 16 regular-season games will be produced by CBS with its lead broadcasters and production team, including Nantz and Simms, on all Thursday night games.
NFL Network hosts and analysts will be featured in the pregame, halftime and postgame shows along with CBS Sports announcers.
McManus said the coverage will feature a super high-definition camera suspended on a wire over the sideline and goal lines and at least one player from each team will be miked for quick turnaround video on a big play or touchdown. A former NFL referee will work as a rules analyst in the booth, and the games will get a new graphics package and theme music.
Goodell was asked about the NFL returning to Los Angeles, which has been without a team since the 1990s, when the Rams and Raiders departed.
He said the key was having a stadium that can be competitive with the league’s newer stadiums, including the latest in Santa Clara, California.
“We would like to do that here,” Goodell said. “Opportunities are starting to develop.”
Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots and chairman of the league’s broadcast committee, said the league’s owners are concerned about not having a team in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest market.
“A whole generation of fans have grown up without a team to root for,” he said. “We want young people to be branded to a team. We want to have at least one if not two teams in downtown Los Angeles. The most important thing is to have the right facility. If you don’t have something really compelling, then you won’t have people here all the time.”
The NFL will play three regular-season games in London, where it has been well received in the past.
“I would also believe we should have a franchise in London before the decade is out,” Kraft said.
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