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PR purge exacerbates issues with Redskins' offensive nickname

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

If you ain't got it, don't flaunt it. And the Redskins, despite sitting on a nickname that is by almost all standards entirely offensive, are currently flaunting it, through a poorly conceived public relations push that's focusing on other people who also use the nickname "Redskins."

Washington kicked things off Monday with an article titled "We Are Very Proud to Be Called Redskins." It focused on high schools that use the same nickname as Washington's professional football team.

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"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," the article reads.

This is short-sighted and sad. It's the NFL equivalent of a 50-year-old man getting caught vandalizing a highway overpass and trying to explain his behavior by pointing out that the local high-school kids do it. It's nonsensical and and irrational. It is embarrassing and irrational. It is everything you would expect from the Redskins, given their team-run, off-field behavior for much of the Dan Snyder era.

And it didn't end there. On Wednesday, the Redskins, apparently pleased with the public reaction from their first piece on their offensive nickname, released a second item on the team's official blog entitled "Lamar High School: 'Once a Redskin, Always a Redskin.'"

Redskins.tv (and therefore, by extension, the Redskins themselves) checked in with Brian Orakpo's high school coach at Lamar High, Tom Nolen, who talked about Orakpo's rise to becoming a great NFL player and -- just in passing, I'm sure! -- happened to mention how great it was to have pride in their mascot ... the Redskins.

"Our school is 75 years old and there's a lot of pride in it," Nolen said. "I think it's a great mascot, as all of the traits of a Redskins warrior are something to be admired."

Is this supposed to qualify as subtle or something? Because, memo to the folks working behind the scenes in Washington: it's not. It's flagrant. And it's certainly not helped by posting the following picture inside the story as an example of how full of pride the Lamar mascot is:

Nolen, who is never described, mentioned or even remotely alluded to as someone of Native-American descent, also adds that "It's always a good day to be a Redskin."

And this is the big thing here for me (neither a Native American nor a Redskins fan, admittedly) is that it's not up to people who aren't members of the group being offended to make a decision.

That's on the people being offended and in this instance it's become abundantly clear that a large number of organizations representing American Indians are highly offended by the name. How could they not be? It's a farce that a professional sports league allows a team to continually upset and offend an entire race of people, and all in the name of, what ... branding? Money? "The fans?"

Because all of those reasons are absolute garbage. The team's brand would live on and thrive no matter what the team's nickname is. In fact, a name change might generate more money for Snyder -- anyone who claims they'll quit cheering for professional football in Washington because they wouldn't keep their nickname has bigger issues rolling around in their subconscious. (And besides, if the Spurrier years didn't scare you off, nothing should.)

It's not Dan Snyder's call to decide whether or not Redskins is offensive. It's not the call of Redskins fans to decide if this is offensive. And it's not some politically correct freakout (a la Bullets) either. This is a race of people being slapped in the face by greed-fueled stubbornness and it's something that needs to change.

But if the team's recent smug public relations surge is any indication, that's not a likely outcome.

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