EDITORIAL: It's time to sweep Redskins nickname into dustbin of football history
- The Washington Redskins nickname may soon disappear.
- The NFL franchise is reviewing the use of the name.
- The nickname has long been considered the most racist nickname in pro sports.
This should have been the ultimate “no-brainer.”
The decision to change the nickname of Washington’s National Football League franchise should have been as easy as changing your socks.
It is obvious to most that “Redskins” is the most blatantly racist nickname in all of professional sports.
The use of the name has been traced to 18th century British colonialists — a group not generally known for their enlightened views on people of color.
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Stubborn ownership: The offensive name should’ve been dropped decades ago, but the Redskins’ ownership has stubbornly refused to do so. When George Preston Marshall owned the team from 1932 through 1969, that was no surprise. The team founder was widely regarded as one the most racist owners in the history of team sports.
A strong supporter of racial segregation, Marshall was the last NFL owner to put a Black man onto a roster, only doing so in 1962 under pressure from the federal government, which threatened to block his use of a government-owned stadium.
Later on, owners who were supposedly more enlightened, such as Jack Kent Cooke and current owner Dan Snyder, continued to cling to the Redskins’ name. They used the lame argument that the name somehow “honored” native Americans. They also claimed the personal histories of many of their fans was too closely aligned with the name to allow the possibility of changing it. That’s a polite way of saying Snyder didn’t want to anger fans who had racist inclinations.
In fact, in 2013, Snyder forcefully told USA Today: "We'll never change the name. ... It's that simple. NEVER — you can use caps."
Well, it looks like “NEVER” lasted about all of seven years.
Change finally appears likely: That’s because all indications point to the Redskins’ name finally getting swept into the dustbin of NFL history, where it belongs.
The team announced late last week that the matter is under review. “In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community, the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name.”
It would be surprising if Snyder doesn’t eventually announce a new nickname. If and when that time comes, it will be long overdue.
The current national debate on race relations, sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, undoubtedly helped to refocus criticism on the use of the Redskins name.
Still, Snyder has long refused to cave to his social-justice critics.
Money matters: Snyder only showed some willingness to give ground on the issue when the Redskins’ bottom-line future was seriously threatened.
The company whose name graces the team’s home field, FedEx, wants a name change. That company’s chief executive officer also reportedly wants out of his minority stake in the team (as do two others).
Washington’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, says returning the team’s home field to the District of Columbia from Landover won’t happen as long as the franchise retains its name.
Apparel giant Nike has yanked Redskins gear from its online store.
Even the team's new head coach, Ron Rivera (the only Latino head coach in the NFL), is openly supporting a new name.
Those actions appear to have finally created a tipping point that Snyder can no longer ignore.
The Redskins name will likely soon disappear.
It’s about time.