SBD/February 15, 2013/Franchises

Redskins GM Bruce Allen Deflects Renewed Criticism Toward Team's Nickname

Allen said the Redskins organization does not feel the name is offensive
Redskins GM Bruce Allen on Thursday said that the team is "not considering a change" to its nickname in light of renewed calls to change it by critics who claim it is racially offensive, according to Rich Campbell of the WASHINGTON TIMES. Allen "cited the team's history and benign intent in defending its nickname" against the claims. He said, "There’s nothing that we feel that is offensive, and we’re proud of our history." Several Native American groups, including the National Congress of American Indians, recently "intensified their public criticism of the nickname" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/15). In DC, Mike Jones noted speakers at a recent forum at the National Museum of the American Indian "condemned the name and demanded it be changed." City Mayor Vincent Gray also has "raised the issue and three Washington Post columnists criticized the name in recent weeks." The Redskins on their website this week "referred to a number of high schools that use 'Redskins' as their team name and interviewed one school official about the name" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/14).

DELICATE SITUATION: ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said if a survey of DC residents was taken, 75% would say the name Redskins “is offensive." Wilbon: "If you polled the same people and said, ‘How many of you want to change the nickname,’ 95% would have said, ‘We don’t want to change the name.’” Wilbon wondered who would "apply the pressure” to change the name, as Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder “doesn’t want to do this.” ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser called the nickname "indefensible" and said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell eventually “will go to Dan Snyder and they’ll sit down in a room and he’ll say, ‘Let us help you out. We want you to change this name. You can keep the feathers, you can keep all of it, you’ve got to change the name because it’s fair and right.’” Wilbon noted pressure for a name change can come from social media, but said, “You’re talking about national thought versus local thought, and I don’t know when it comes to an NFL team that national thought can bring enough pressure if that team is insulated by local thought” (“PTI,” ESPN, 2/14). In Jacksonville, Garry Smits wrote under the header, "Time To Retire The Redskins Name." Smits: "Maybe President Barack Obama could follow [former U.S. Senator Robert] Kennedy's lead and say publicly that a team in our nation's capital shouldn't have a clearly racist nickname. If they spoke out, perhaps owner Dan Snyder would realize the times have long since changed" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 2/14).

NAME'S GOTTA GO: CBSSPORTS.com's Mike Freeman wrote now would be the "perfect time for the Washington Redskins to dump the ugly, stereotypical nickname that embarrasses them, their city and their league." The team instead is "doubling down on the nickname, publishing several remarkably tone-deaf pieces of propaganda on its website." It "doesn't seem to matter to Washington officials that the most recent poll increasingly shows mass hatred of the name by American Indians." Freeman: "We've become so complacent with this ugly, racial name that it has almost become comfortable, like old leather" (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/13). In DC, Sally Jenkins noted the team recently "launched a campaign to defuse the pressure Snyder is under to change the team name by declaring that '70 different high schools in 25 states are known as the Redskins,' and therefore it’s surely an honorable word." Jenkins: "But I’m willing to hazard that most 10th graders don’t realize a team calling itself Redskins might as well rename itself the Darkies, Guidos, or Slant Eyes." It is Snyder's "favorite ploy to summon 'history' and 'heritage' to defend his use of a term that belongs in the same class as Dagos, Hymies and Krauts." Jankins wrote Snyder "doesn’t care to do anything about the name because he doesn’t consider American Indians a significant part of his audience" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/13). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "How is it possible that this is still a name in sports? I feel we’re going to look back 25 years from now when there are no more ‘Redskins’ … and say, ‘What the hell were we doing naming a team the Redskins!?’” (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 2/14).

FINALLY BREAKING GROUND: In Richmond, Robert Zullo reports the Redskins on Thursday were "celebrating a belated groundbreaking ... for the new Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center now under construction on 17 acres of state property." Though the city's Planning Commission will review the final site plans Tuesday, work "started last month, since the facility must be ready by the end of June." Allen said that the team's management is "excited about the potential to interact with children and the community at large via the camp’s proximity to the Children’s Museum of Richmond and the Science Museum of Virginia" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 2/15).

CAP & GONE: Allen said that the Redskins "continue to consider ways to fight the penalty that reduces their 2013 salary cap by $18 million." However, Allen "would not specify what actions the team is considering." The WASHINGTON TIMES' Campbell noted the NFL "penalized the Redskins $36 million in salary cap space last March 12, the day before the 2012 league year began" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 2/14).
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