I like Redskins, but only in mashed potatoes
Nov 15, 2013 | 2129 views | 0 0 comments | 152 152 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sports Talk
Jack Deming
Sports Talk Jack Deming
For decades, Daniel Snyder has shown he is a clueless man. Since he bought the Washington Redskins in 1999 for a then record $800 million, his franchise has signed bad players to huge contracts, and burned through seven head coaches. This has included, and is not limited to: an attempt to bring in a losing but quotable college coach in Steve Spurrier; the ghost of Super Bowl coaches past in Joe Gibbs; and, lest we forget, the simple beauty of the Jim Zorn train wreck. But Snyder, in all the snarky-ness that only he can encapsulate, has outdone himself once again.

I know, everyone from wannabe sports-Cronkite Bob Costas to Congress has thrown in their two cents regarding the name of Washington’s football team, but it shouldn’t be up for debate. Using the name “Redskins” offends a group of people in the United States, a group who has been shown disrespect, desecration, and death since Europeans discovered the Western Hemisphere. But even in the obsessively sensitive culture that we live in, it still, somehow, isn’t enough. Ultimately Snyder needs to look at his priorities. It’s a name, and one that we’ll be able to forget. The Houston Oilers were around for 30 years and I’m barely old enough to remember seeing them play a single game, Love ya, Blue!

But Snyder’s letter to fans about why he won’t change the name is as self-centered as it is oblivious. “Our team began 81 years ago – in 1932 – with the name ‘Boston Braves.’ The following year, the franchise name was changed to the ‘Boston Redskins.’ The name was never a label. It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor.”

A badge of honor to whom? It’s not the Braves or Blackhawks, names which both feature redeeming or honoring qualities. “Redskins” refers to a stereotype, and a skin color.

NFL teams didn’t even start drafting African Americans until 1946, and as ironic as it sounds, it was none other than Redskins coach George Preston Marshall who refused to do so until 1962 to appeal to southern markets.

Even if the term Redskins was acceptable at the time the name was heralded in, racial epitaphs undergo transformations and over time become offensive.

In 1932, the term African American wasn’t around, so what if Snyder was hanging onto the name Washington Coloreds or Negroes? Would he be so inclined to change the name then? So why is this offense so different to him?

We’ve learned some lessons, and we’re smart enough to know about the disrespect we have shown to certain ethnic groups. All Snyder is doing is hanging on to one of the last established bastions of our ethically challenged past, dragging his slur around to 31 other cities, like Geronimo being paraded around at the Worlds Fair of 1904, like a token piece of the good old days.

As Snyder himself says, “After 81 years, the team name Redskins continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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