NEW YORK — CBS lead analyst Phil Simms referred awkwardly to “the Washington team” early in the Redskins’ nationally televised game against the New York Giants on Thursday night.
Otherwise, his decision not to say the NFL club’s nickname wasn’t very conspicuous.
Simms first told The Associated Press last month that he would refer to the team only as “Washington” during the broadcast. He said he wasn’t taking sides on whether the club should change its nickname, but he was sensitive to complaints that the term is offensive.
Simms’ broadcast partner, play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz, used “Redskins” as usual Thursday, so the word was still heard plenty during the telecast. Nantz said last month that it’s “not my job to take a stance.”
As an analyst, Simms has less reason than Nantz to mention a team’s nickname. Most times it was clear which squad he was talking about, so he would just say a player’s name, or “the defense,” or even “they.”
Simms occasionally seemed to pause ever-so-slightly before saying “Washington,” though it wouldn’t have been noticeable if not for the unusual circumstances. With the game out of hand midway through the fourth quarter, Simms did slip and say “Redskins,” which he immediately corrected to “Washington.”
One Redskins fan held up a sign that read “Keep the Name,” with a red slash through Simms’ face. Of course, Simms is never a popular figure in Washington as a former star quarterback for the rival Giants.
CBS is airing Thursday night games for the first time this season as part of a new package, with the lead team of Nantz and Simms calling the action.
Most TV commentators have kept using “Redskins” this year amid growing criticism of the name.