WASHINGTON — Be prepared. The Redskins open their regular season against the Steelers on Monday Night Football and their team name — once again — will be at center stage.
When Sean McDonough, who takes over this season as play-by-play announcer for ESPN’s Monday Night broadcasts, makes his Sept. 12 debut, the name ‘Redskins’ will be on his mind.
McDonough recently spoke with Shutdown Corner’s Eric Edholm about his high profile new job, and filling the large shoes left by longtime MNF announcer Mike Tirico, who departed for NBC. One of the topics discussed was the Redskins’ name.
“I haven’t thought about it,” McDonough says. “I think my inclination would be that as long as it has been a nickname I’ll probably refer to them that way.”
“It’s tough. I think any nickname that people find offensive is something that ought to be carefully considered. And I know some of the people who have protested the loudest.”
One of those protesters he’s close with, McDonough says, is Ray Halbritter, longtime name activist and spokesman for Oneida Indian Nation, champions of the ongoing “Change The Mascot” campaign.
“I am up in upstate New York a couple times a year, and Ray who runs the Oneida Nation and I see each other. I’ve met him and other of his colleagues many times,” McDonough tells Edholm. “Ray’s a smart guy, and he’s as outspoken as anyone on it. They’re real people who have their reasons for being offended. I think they’re justified. It’s a sensitive subject.”
McDonough hasn’t decided how he will handle Washington’s name, though he has some idea.
“I don’t know if anybody has just steadfastly avoided using it,” he says. “My sense is I’ll probably refer them as ‘Washington’ as many times as I could.”
“But as far as totally not using it, I haven’t really thought about it to be honest. As we get closer those conversations will happen. I am very sensitive to people who find it offensive.”
“My guess is that I’ll call them Redskins,” McDonough says, “but it might not be much more than once or twice. The rest of the night it will be, ‘First-and-10, Washington at the 20-yard line.'”
“I think that’s the best way.”