SBD/October 10, 2013/Franchises

Snyder Defends Redskins' Nickname In Letter, But In More Measured Approach

Snyder wrote he has listened carefully to the commentary and perspectives on all sides
Redskins Owner Dan Snyder yesterday offered his "most detailed defense to date of the Redskins name," writing a letter to fans explaining his stance on the issue, according to Shin & Steinberg of the WASHINGTON POST. Snyder writes in the letter that while he respects the "opinions of those who are offended by the team name ... we cannot ignore our 81-year history." Tens of thousands of fans and season-ticket holders "began receiving e-mails and letters from Snyder on Wednesday, four days after President Obama added his voice to the decades-long debate over the team name." The "often-combative" Snyder in the letter took a "softer, more personal approach than he has in the past." He also "rejected any negative characterization of the name." He cited a nine-year-old Annenberg Public Policy Center poll of 800 Native Americans across 48 states that "showed nine out of 10 did not find the name offensive." Snyder also "pointed to an April Associated Press-GFK poll" that found 79% of those surveyed said the team should keep its name. He "quoted leaders of American Indian tribes in Virginia who have publicly expressed support for the name in news stories." Snyder wrote, "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." His "intended audience -- Redskins fans -- largely applauded the team’s shift to a less confrontational, more empathetic tone" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/10). Snyder in the letter "invoked the franchise’s proud tradition and his personal experience going to games with his father, Gerry, at RFK Stadium" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/10).

WHAT THE DEBATE COMES DOWN TO: In N.Y., Ken Belson in a front-page piece writes the name debate "tends to settle on one question: how many people must be offended by a team’s name for a change to be warranted?" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/10). Also in N.Y., Filip Bondy writes Snyder is "just another holdout wrapping himself in the false romantic notion that his football team is somehow honoring Native Americans with its name" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/10). Sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards said, “For someone to be so incompetent, to be so deficient in terms of their facility and dexterity with the standard linguistic currency of the culture to such an extent that they have to resort to epithets in order to express themselves, it’s not so much offensive as it is pathetic” ("Jim Rome On Showtime," 10/9). In Utah, Doug Robinson wrote the "end is near." The NFL and the Redskins "just don't know it yet." They "just have to decide how long they want to resist the inevitable" (DESERETNEWS.com, 10/9). CBSSN's Tony Luftman: “If Barack Obama, with the government in a shutdown, takes time to comment on this, I say it rises to a level of serious interest” ("Lead Off," CBSSN, 10/9).
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