Hours after President Barack Obama said he would "think about changing" the Redskins team name because it offends “a sizable group of people," the organization responded in a statement through attorney Lanny Davis.
“As a supporter of President Obama, I am sure the President is not aware that in the highly respected independent Annenberg Institute poll (taken in 2004) with a national sample of Native Americans, 9 out of 10 Native Americans said they were not bothered by the name the ‘Washington Redskins.'" Davis said. "The President made these comments to the Associated Press, but he was apparently unaware that an April 2013 AP poll showed that 8 out of 10 of all Americans in a national sample don't think the Washington Redskins' name should be changed.
"The Redskins respect everyone. But like devoted fans of the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks (from President Obama's hometown), the fans love their team and its name and, like those fans, they do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group," Davis continued. "The name ‘Washington Redskins' is 80 years old -- its history and legacy and tradition. The Redskins' fans sing 'Hail to the Redskins' every Sunday as an expression of honor, not disparagement."
It's not clear how Davis' support of Obama has anything to do with whether the president was aware of a nine-year-old Annenberg Institute poll or an AP poll from this spring.
Davis also pointed to other professional sports team -- the Braves, Indians and Blackhawks -- as examples of fans that "love their team and it's name" and is done so with the utmost respect for the "racial or ethnic group" involved while noting that the Redskins name has been in existence for 80 years. "That's how it's always been" is a flimsy defense for maintaining the status quo and, as PFT's Mike Florio writes, "That's like saying, 'No offense is intended' before saying something offensive."
Obama's comments come a month after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made similar remarks before concluding that ultimately, team owner Dan Snyder's decision.
"If one person's offended, we have to listen," Goodell said. "And ultimately, it is Dan's decision. But it is something that I want all of us to go out and make sure we're listening to our fans, listening to people who have a different view, and making sure that we continue to do what's right to make sure that team represents the strong tradition that it has for so many years."
In May, Snyder spoke in no uncertain terms about the team name.
"We'll never change [it]," he said. "It's that simple. NEVER -- you can use caps."