NFL to Native American’s: We support the Redskins
Representatives of the Oneida Indian Nation on Wednesday asked NFL executives to sanction Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder for conduct detrimental to the league for continuing to use a team nickname and mascot that “promote a dictionary-defined racial slur.”
In the 90-minute meeting between Oneida Nation representatives and three senior league executives in New York City, the officials also asked for all team owners to meet with Oneida leaders the week of Super Bowl XLVIII. And they asked that Snyder and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who was traveling Wednesday and did not attend the meeting, visit Oneida Nation homelands in upstate New York.
But the Oneida representatives left disappointed, saying after the meeting with senior NFL executives Jeff Pash, Adolpho Birch and Paul Hicks that the league “defended the use of a racist name,” Oneida spokesman Joel Barkin said.
“We are very disappointed,” Barkin said. “This is the beginning of a process. It’s clear that they don’t see how this is not a unifying term. They don’t have a complete appreciation for the breadth of opposition of Native Americans to this mascot and name.”
Snyder like his good friend Cowboys owner Jerry Jones knows business and brand marketing. The Redskins are the third most valuable team in the NFL according to Forbes Magazine. Robert Griffin, III Redskins jersey was in 2012 was the best selling jersey in the NFL nationally and it still is number 2 over all in 2013.
The Redskins have sold out every game since 1968 and they have the NFL’s longest streak for sell outs. The team owns a season ticket waiting list that is nearly 100,000 people long. Their radio broadcasts and local television shows are sold out from an advertising stand point and there are sponsors on a waiting list there as well.
Neither the Redskins nor the NFL see any reason to change and while there it is no doubt the name is offense to some it is not to their fans nor their owner. Fans must remember that Commissioner Roger Goodell works for Snyder, not the other way around. The name changes only if it is bad business for either the Redskins or the league and it is not.
Here is Snyder’s defense of using the name:
As some of you may know, 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.” On that inaugural Redskins team, four players and our Head Coach were Native Americans. The name was never a label. It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor.
In 1971, our legendary coach, the late George Allen, consulted with the Red Cloud Athletic Fund located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and designed our emblem on the Redskins helmets. Several years later, Coach Allen was honored by the Red Cloud Athletic Fund. On the wall at our Ashburn, Virginia, offices is the plaque given to Coach Allen — a source of pride for all of us. “Washington Redskins is more than a name we have called our football team for over eight decades. It is a symbol of everything we stand for: strength, courage, pride, and respect — the same values we know guide Native Americans and which are embedded throughout their rich history as the original Americans.
I’ve listened carefully to the commentary and perspectives on all sides, and I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name. But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too.
Consider the following facts concerning the “Washington Redskins” name:
1) The highly respected Annenberg Public Policy Center polled nearly 1,000 self-identified Native Americans from across the continental U.S. and found that 90% of Native Americans did notfind the team name “Washington Redskins” to be “offensive.”
2) In an April 2013 Associated Press survey, 79% of the respondents stated the Washington Redskins should not change their name, while only 1 1% believed the team’s name should change.
Paul Woody, a columnist for the Richmond Times Dispatch, interviewed three leaders of Virginia Native American tribes this May. They were all quoted by Mr. Woody as stating that the team name doesn’t offend them — and their comments strongly supported the name “Washington Redskins.” Also in May, SiriusXM NFL Radio hosted Robert Green, the longtime and recently retired Chief of the Fredericksburg-area Patawomeck Tribe, who said, among other things:
“Frankly, the members of my tribe — the vast majority — don’t find it offensive. I’ve been a Redskins fan for years. And to be honest with you, I would be offended if they did change [the name, Redskins ... This is] an attempt by somebody … to completely remove the Indian identity from anything and pretty soon … you have a wipeout in society of any reference to Indian people … You can’t rewrite history — yes there were some awful bad things done to our people over time, but naming the Washington football team the Redskins, we don’t consider to be one of those bad things.”