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    Bob Costas Defends Weighing In on Washington Redskins Controversy: "It's a Football Issue"

    Bob Costas, Redskins NBC

    Bob Costas insists that he isn't trying to make Football Night in America his bully pulpit.

    "Nonsense—nonsense," he said on Dan Patrick's radio show this morning in response to criticism that he's trying to use his Sunday night gig to promote social causes.

    Yesterday during the Washington Redskins' game against the Dallas Cowboys, Costas dedicated his half-time essay segment to the ongoing controversy over Redksins owner Dan Snyder's stated refusal to ever change the team's name despite protests from some Native American groups and general distaste over the name amounting to nothing more than an ethnic slur.

    "Dan, I'm surprised. This is so obvious. No, it's a football issue. It's right there. It's a football issue," Costas told Patrick, per the Washington Post

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    "People say lots of stuff," Costas continued. "I'm sure— and I'm not comparing this in importance, or comparing myself to any of those who crusaded for a worthy cause—but I'm sure that people said if someone wrote in a New York newspaper in 1947, or prior to that, saying it's wrong that there are not black players in Major League Baseball—stick to sports...

    "There are people that are gonna say that. But very often, sports inevitably has intersected with issues that appear, to some extent, to be outside the field. And on some occasions, sports has actually been the best vehicle for discussing these issues, because sports cuts across so many demographic lines."

    Costas said last night during the game that, once you've asked yourself "what the equivalent would be, if directed toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or members of any other ethnic group," there's no way that the name Redskins can "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 concluded in his half-time essay. "It is 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?"

    The broadcasting veteran reiterated this morning that he doesn't think Snyder means to offend anyone by sticking with the Redskins moniker.

    But "I think he backed himself into a corner by saying never and by digging his heels in," Costas added. "And when you dig your heels in, it makes it more difficult to give in. He didn't leave himself very much wiggle room, and I'm sure that there are people behind the scenes—the [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell] may be one of them, I'm not going to speak for him—but I'm sure there are people behind the scenes who are trying to ease him towards some sort of resolution here. But if you've dug yourself in and said there won't be any movement whatsoever, this is a non-issue in terms of discussing it, no no never, then it's going to be harder to compromise."

    (E! Online is a member of the NBCUniversal family.)

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