When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about the Redskins’ name during this year’s pre-Super Bowl press conference, his off-the-cuff response was, “I don’t think anybody wants to offend anybody.” With the benefit of time to reflect on a written reply to a recent letter from 10 members of Congress, Goodell was more articulate and detailed. And also surprisingly candid.
Goodell’s letter, a copy of which can be seen here, begins with an explanation of the origins of the label.
“As you may know,” Goodell writes, “the team began as the Boston Braves in 1932, a name that honored the courage and heritage of Native Americans. The following year, the name was changed to the Redskins — in part to avoid confusion with the Boston baseball team of the same name, but also to honor the team’s then-head coach, William ‘Lone Star’ Dietz. Neither in intent nor use was the name ever meant to denigrate Native Americans or offend any group.”