SBD/October 14, 2013/Franchises

Goodell Confident Snyder Is Listening To Opponents In Redskins Nickname Controversy

Snyder's position on the Redskins moniker is increasingly coming under scrutiny
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday said he is "confident" Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder is listening to opponents of the team's nickname, because Snyder "feels strongly about that name, but he also wants to do the right thing," according to Lindsay Jones of USA TODAY. Goodell last night during a Q&A with Cowboys season-ticket holders repeated that the league would "listen to all parties about the nickname, not just NFL fans." He said, "We want to make sure what we're doing is not insulting in any way to anybody. Again, I think the Redskins have always done this in a way that respects the honor and tradition and the history of Native Americans. And that's something for them to be proud of." Meanwhile, Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones last night called Snyder a friend and said that he "didn't believe Snyder or the franchise was insensitive to the feelings of Native Americans." Jones: "It would be a real mistake -- a real mistake -- to think Dan, who is Jewish, has a lack of sensitivity regarding anybody's feelings" (USATODAY.com, 10/13). NBC's Bob Costas addressed the topic during halftime of Redskins-Cowboys last night, saying, "There is no reason to believe that Owner Daniel Snyder, or any official or player from his team, harbors animus toward Native Americans or wishes to disrespect them." But he added, "Think for a moment about the term 'Redskins,' and how it truly differs from all the others. Ask yourself what the equivalent would be, if directed toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or members of any other ethnic group. When considered that way, 'Redskins' can't possibly honor a heritage, or noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term." Costas: "It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent. It is fair to say that for a long time now, and certainly in 2013, no offense has been intended. But, if you take a step back, isn't it clear to see how offense might legitimately be taken?" ("Redskins-Cowboys," NBC, 10/13).

SCHOOL REFUTES SNYDER'S CLAIM: In DC, Annys Shin noted Snyder in a letter to fans last week invoked the name of the Red Cloud Indian School and Athletic Fund in South Dakota to defend the name, but officials at the school on Friday "raised questions about Snyder’s account and denounced the team’s name." Red Cloud Athletic Fund President George Winzenburg and Exec VP Robert Brave Heart in a statement said, "As an organization, Red Cloud Indian School has never -- and will never -- endorse the use of the name ‘Redskins.' Like many Native American organizations across the country, members of our staff and extended community find the name offensive" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/13). In Phoenix, Bob Young wrote Snyder's letter "isn’t going to convince those who are offended by the term and want the name changed" (AZCENTRAL.com, 10/12). In Tampa, Tom Jones wrote of Snyder's letter, "Saying the team should keep the name because of tradition might be the lamest excuse I've ever heard. Let's keep doing something because that's the way we've always done it, regardless of people's feelings?" (TAMPABAY.com, 10/11). In San Diego, John Maffei wrote he does not find the name the "least bit offensive," but "when you step back and look at this controversy from the Native American point of view, I understand" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 10/13).

ISSUE BECOMING TOO BIG TO IGNORE: YAHOO SPORTS' Eric Adelson writes the controversy surrounding the Redskins name, "whether you hate the name or not, has become too large to tamp down or shrug off anymore." ESPN Radio 980 DC's Chris Cooley, who played for the Redskins for nine years, said, "You have to address it. It's something that matters." Adelson writes even if a "majority of fans don't want the name changed, a majority of fans are aware of the debate and have an opinion." It is "not an on-field issue and it may never be, but that doesn't mean it won't influence the franchise." Cooley added, "The guys in here aren't going to lose their focus. My fear is that it'll divide the fan base. We have such good fans and I'm worried you'll split the fan base" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/14).
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