|Will Washington's football team ever change its name? (Getty Images)|
The Redskins have been in Washington since 1937. For decades now, the issue of whether the organization should change its name has come up every season, several times a season. Two weeks ago, NFL Comissioner Roger Goodell was asked about it at his Super Bowl press conference and offered no real insights into what will happen.
"I do know that, growing up in Washington, I do understand the affinity for that name with the fans," Goodell said. "I also understand the other side of that, and I don't think anybody wants to offend anybody, but this has been discussed several times over a long period of time. I think [Washington owner] Dan Snyder and the organization have made it very clear that they're proud of that heritage and that name, and I believe the fans are, too.”
The organization reiterated this fact Monday when they posted a story titled "We Are Very Proud To Be Called Redskins," to the team's official site.
"These are the words of Coshocton High School athletic director George Hemming, who serves as the athletic director for just one of the 70 different High Schools in 25 states are known as the Redskins," the post read. "Redskins.com found that there are almost as many schools using the name Redskins as Cowboys, as only 75 schools use the name Cowboys, and interestingly just 19 use the name Giants."
So why even publish this? As best we can tell, the post comes down to one sentence: "These schools' athletes have a deep connection, just as the Washington Redskins alumni, and many high school student-athletes have pride in calling themselves Redskins."
And since a group of people still find the name insensitive, we can't help but wonder what the organization hoped to gain by putting this out there.
Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg wrote Monday that while the "latest flurry of attacks on the Redskins team name has not seemed to involve new voices … their arguments ... have gotten significantly more aggressive in recent weeks."
Take, for example, local WRC-TV anchor Jim Vance, who has been outspoken on the issue for some time.
“Back in the day, if you really wanted to insult a black man, attack a Jew, an Irishman, and probably start a fight, you threw out certain words,” Vance said on Friday (via the Sports Bog). “You know what they are. They were, and they are, pejoratives of the first order, the worst order, specifically intended to injure. In my view, ‘Redskin' was and is in that same category. ... The name sucks. We need to get rid of it.”
(You can read Vance's entire transcript at the bottom of Steinberg's post here.)
Meanwhile, DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray had this to say last month about the Redskins' name: "I would love to be able to sit down with the team . . . and see if a change should be made,” he said Jan. 9 (via the Washington Post). “There's a precedent for this, and I think there needs to be a dispassionate discussion about this, and do the right thing."
Last week, however, Gray backtracked from those comments.
“The point I was trying to make at the time was . . . it's sitting on federal land,” the mayor said. “You know that issue will come up if that's the proposal, to build the stadium there. That was the point I was making.”
Gray added that his comments had been unfairly misconstrued to make it seem like he personally supported a name change. It didn't help that Gray referred to the Redskins as “our Washington football team” in his State of the District address. The mayor said his choice of words weren't an implicit indictment of the team's name.
“I was trying to avoid more controversy around this,” he said. “I wasn't going to let my State of the District speech become the ‘Washington football team' story.”
Wherever the mayor stands, this much is certain: The Redskins naming issue won't go away quietly.