Posted October 05, 2013

Obama suggests Redskins name change; team’s lawyer responds defiantly

Washington Redskins
President Barack Obama during his Friday interview with the Associated Press. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

President Barack Obama during his Friday interview with the Associated Press. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

President Barack Obama is the latest to weigh in on the subject of the Washington Redskins’ name. In an interview with the Associated Press on Friday, the President said that if he owned the team, a change in nickname would be considered.

“I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things,” Obama said, adding that team names like “Redskins” offend “a sizeable group of people.”

Several football writers, including TheMMQB’s Peter King, have decided to avoid using the “Redskins” name altogether. Politicians have called for a name change, and opponents of the name vow to hold a protest outside the league’s fall meetings, which start Monday in the nation’s capital.

On Saturday evening, Lanny Davis, the team’s attorney, issued this statement:

“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.’ 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. 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.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has established slightly different positions on the subject over time.

“The Washington Redskins name has thus from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context,” Goodell wrote in a letter to Congress in June. “For the team’s millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America’s most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”

But in a more recent interview with Chad Dukes and LaVar Arrington on D.C.’s 106.7 The Fan sports-radio station, Goodell softened his stance — to a point.

“I know the team name is part of their history and tradition, and that’s something that’s important to the Redskins fans,” Goodell said last month. “And I think what we have to do, though, is we have to listen. If one person’s offended, we have to listen. 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.”

“Dan,” of course, is Dan Snyder, the team’s owner. Snyder has said that he will never change the team’s name — “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

159 comments
BruceDBailey
BruceDBailey

The Celts used to paint themselves Blue before battle. Maybe we should become the Blueskins. But then some Irish wimp will start wailing.

How about the Foreskins?

Really. The whole thing is just ridiculas. Will the PC weenies please move on to the next manufactured offensiveness.


BruceDBailey
BruceDBailey

" If one person is offended we have to listen"?

Since when? If you choose to be offended by something that is YOUR problem and a reflection of what IS WRONG WITH YOU, not my teams nickname.

But speaking of offended, I'll be offended as all hell f the politically correct weenies get their way on this one.

Yes, I'd find that political strong arming my teams beloved nickname away from us VERY, VERY, VERY OFFENSIVE INDEED!!!

What about me, Mr. Goodall? Or does being offended only count if you are a minority... like you can't be a racist if you're black...

What a crock! Leave the name alone!

Let the poor offended ones go seek a life. Like maybe trying to raise money to by reservation children shoes or school books. You know, something REAL! Not this made up crap over a sports team's nickname for all love!

Donald27
Donald27

Obama has just defecated in his shoe, and inserted it into his mouth which is most appropriate for this most incompetent President. Thought he said he had bigger fish to fry.  American people have lost faith in you sir! We no longer believe in you for what you have done adversely to out once free nation. 

What's next Obama .....change name of White House to President's house perhaps?

JosephSmith1
JosephSmith1

Just change the icon to a potato, and leave the name the same.  Then its referencing a type of spud, not a race of people.

Jeff63
Jeff63

Maybe Obama should worry about doing his job??

kj4027
kj4027

Why is everyone focusing on the Redskins? What about the Atlanta Braves or the FSU Seminoles? It's just a name... get over it.

parkbrav
parkbrav

There are better team mascots out there, aren't there?

UBERTAXTHERICH
UBERTAXTHERICH

Our President is right on, it's time to change the name.

BlakeBradley
BlakeBradley

"If one person's offended we have to listen" NO WE DONT. If we did that nothing would ever get done.

6marK6
6marK6

I hate these stories, it just gives a reason for all the conservative shut-ins to weigh in with some political rant. Now, if one republican actually had a brain and could make a point, or knew anything about political science, that would be different. But they are all morons like Rob Stumpf.

RobStumpf
RobStumpf

Yet another reason to want him out of office.  

Raven1
Raven1

This is all about Black hatred because the Redskins/Indigenous Americans were Black people. The term was coined in the 1580s LONG before any pale skin people of Europe arrived as slaves and merchants, and eventually mixed with some of the indigenous black people, just as we see interracial mixing today. The U.S. Government termed those admixed people Native Americans to disenfranchise black people of their land and heritage. Native American does not mean American  Indians or Black Indians, as commonly believed. Most Native Americans are Jews. And we all know who Jews feel about Black people. I think this is about changing the Black Mascot, which does not look Native Americans but like Black Indians, Americans Indians and Black people. THE TEAM SHOULD KEEP ITS NAME AND MASCOT. I thought Native Americans lived on reservations. How would they feel if Americans came to their lands and tried to tell them what to do. Last year, the implant Cherokee nation, mostly Jews, banned Black Indians from their tribes. Do people see what's going on? The racism is the Native Americans (jews) and their hatred toward Black Indians--the original peoples. -- siyonqoba.com. 

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

We are the King, and We can make you do anything We desire.  Bow, and cower, o ye subjects.  Who cares about reality?

William88
William88

I just wish he shut up! Who cares what he thinks anyway? My God the next thing you know, PETA will be crying! KEEP ALL THIS PC CRAP OUT OF SPORTS!!! 

rjc_2001
rjc_2001

I think its time to take it to Notre Dame here as well people. We of irish decent are not violent psychopaths ready to fight at a moments notice.

keepingitreal
keepingitreal

Regardless of what is done/named/said/etc. there is going to be disagreement / agreement by any number, get over it enjoy the game

RockC.Gardner
RockC.Gardner

President is right. Period. I don't need statistics to know that one my best friends, an ex girlfriend. and a large portion of my own family wouldn't go to a Redskins or Cherokee game if their lives depended on it. Its like going to  a Cleveland Ni***rs or Chicago Ch**nks game....But statistics say it doesn't offend right? No one ever questions how these statistics and 'hard facts' are built nor what naming processes help segregate Native Americans in the first place.

IvanNamrehs
IvanNamrehs

Would the name Simpering Sycophants be sufficiently deferential?   In the red category, Alabama already has Red Tide, but karenia brevis is still available, if some dangerous pathogen makes a suitable mascot.  Alabama thinks so.

leon1376
leon1376

I also think Obama should ban radio stations from playing "Running Bear"; "Cherokee Nation"; and Cher's "Half Breed". It's alright of course for Obama to listen to his favorite rap artists use the "N-word" about fifty times a minute. That's perfectly fine. Obama should also get rid of "Red Man" tobacco and ban Indian motorcycles. Make it a federal crime to own a "wooden Indian". And how's about that racist "tomahawk chop" used by several sports teams? Once Obama and his buddy Peter King ban "Redskins", then they can go after plenty of other targets. 

andy18
andy18

What next? The Vikings? The Fighting Irish? The Cowboys? The Patriots?

All these names represent significant groups of people, and the name is a compliment, not degrading.

The preznident is an idiot.

GoTerps
GoTerps

"Redskins" was a term invented BY THE NATIVE AMERICANS as a way to refer to one another, according to respected historians. Yes words can change meaning but at least as far back as the Skins have been around it's been OVERWHELMINGLY looked at as a positive, a sign of strength, and of great athleticism. GET... OVER IT!

Ceromundo
Ceromundo

So I guess it's ok to start a little league team and call it the white skins and our fans will sing country music every time the team plays. i guess it's ok to start a team and call it the "Black Skins" and sing "R&B or Rap" every time the team plays...

BruceDBailey
BruceDBailey

@Jeff63 He doesn't have a clue as to what exactly that is...

Except the lying part. He's got that down.

parkbrav
parkbrav

@kj4027 The difference might be the way in which the Washington name is making race, e.g. "...Skin," an express issue

barbwire
barbwire

@UBERTAXTHERICH No he in not right, it is non of his business, his business is running this country not worrying about the nickname of a professional football team. You are as much a moron as he is. 

CG555
CG555

@RockC.Gardner Actually he is so far left he is in another field awaiting his indoctrinated youths to deliver him his heils.


Just remember his profound words, "YES WE CAN" and "CHANGE" those were about the only 4 words he sputtered out over and over again and the people who seem that they cannot think for themselves sucked it down proper.

What the US should really do, is divide itself into 2, since the past few elections have been pretty 50/50 split.  Then let us all see which side actually prospers and which goes the way of the EU with its "great" floundering countries like Greece and Spain.  It is disgusting to see so many people brainwashed completely disregarding how our once great nation was founded and fought for to just throw it all away on some pipe dreams.  Why must our country change to be like others that have no real value?  Granted we have no real value either since way back in the 30s when we gave ourselves up to the private bankers and further diluted when Nixon officially signed away the gold standard as the greenback's backing.  WAKE UP PEOPLE, YOU ARE A SLAVE TO THE SYSTEM BY ALIGNING YOURSELF WITH EITHER SIDE OF THE PUPPET SHOW.  They want the constant bickering amongst the people, that way nothing has to really get done besides further eroding away the USSA and letting the UN take over (yes I know, I will have many from both sides say I'm crazy, I don't care, I'm awake).  First thing that really needs to be done though is to KICK THE UN out of our country and tell them to pack sand.  We don't need them, they need us.

barbwire
barbwire

@leon1376 I think he should ban all the music out there where "his people" are using the N word, glorifying violence, hatred and down right stupidity. 

rjc_2001
rjc_2001

@andy18 all sports teams will soon be like stanford at some point anyway. formerly some aggressive stereotype, reduced down to simply a color like "cardinal" with the mascot of a tree. 

Lou Diamond Phillips
Lou Diamond Phillips

@andy18 Of how the groups you mentioned how many were victims of our nation's genocidal policies? How many of these groups live in third world economies on barren reservations in our nation? You comparisons are absurd. You, sir, are the idiot. 

GumpChun
GumpChun

@andy18 Seriously, comparing the name the Vikings to Redskins? There is an idiot around here and it isn't the President.

GumpChun
GumpChun

That is false. That story is floated to somehow justify its use. Turns out to be a fairy tale. There is no evidence the Indians ever referred to themselves that way, and, even if a single tribe somewhere did, that leaves over 500 tribes that DID NOT. 

We  all know the terms is pejorative and nasty, and was used at a time when the Native Americans needed to be dehumanized so we could drive them off their land and kill them. The idea this somehow respects Indians is beyond laughable. It's like saying The" West Virginia Fighting Hillbillies" respects the roots of the Scotch-Irish. 

GoTerps
GoTerps

@GumpChun @andy18  All we have to do is find a handful of Scandinavian Americans that object, manufacture media rage around them, and BAM - guilt fantasy delivered.


GoTerps
GoTerps

@GumpChun Of course it's false when YOU say it is. Except:

“According to Smithsonian historian Ives Goddard, early historical records indicate that "Redskin" was used as a self-identifier by Native Americans to differentiate between the two races. Goddard found that the first use of the word "redskin" came in 1769, in negotiations between the Piankashaws and Col. John Wilkins. Throughout the 1800s, the word was frequently used by Native Americans as they negotiated with the French and later the Americans.” 

http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/09/09/220654611/are-you-ready-for-some-controversy-the-history-of-redskin

GumpChun
GumpChun

@Andy @ Phillypen are two good examples of the prejudiced reality behind the name. And why it has to go. 


GoTerps
GoTerps

@GumpChun @GoTerps @andy18 I found three guys who say you're wrong. They say it connotes an image of pillage, rape, and murder, and caricatures Northern Europeans. Will that be sufficient to manufacture media rage? Does it matter if I made up the three guys? 

GumpChun
GumpChun

@GoTerps @GumpChun @andy18 The Vikings is the proper and correct name for a group of ancient Scandinavians, and is a proper, non-pejorative word just like the word "Scandinavian."

If we called the team the Minnesota "S-quareheads," then it would need to go. Rightly so.

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

@GumpChun  

Gotta give you credit for stubbornness, as well as intractable ignorance.

A guy quotes a historian, BY NAME, who is associated with a prestigious institution.  

You quote...wikipedia, where anyone can write anything.  Tell me, did you enter that stuff just to bolster your own "argument?"  Wouldn't surprise me.  Anyway, your reliance on wikipedia shows what your understanding of intellectial discourse is worth -- nothing.

rjc_2001
rjc_2001

@GumpChun quoting wikipedia to debunk the smithsonian... always a good choice. 

GoTerps
GoTerps

@GumpChun Oh I see your knowledge of history debunks a guy who works for the Smithsonian and is quoted on NPR. Hmmm... cause the web says so, ok!

BTW, from the same article I posted: “Boston Braves owner George Preston Marshall decided in 1933 to change the franchise's name from the Braves to the Redskins. Team lore says the franchise adopted the name in honor of former coach William "Lone Star" Dietz, who identified as Native American. Dietz brought several Native American players he had coached at the Haskell Indian School with him to the team.”

So - it's regrettable that Marshall was a raging racist re black people. Does that shameful behavior AUTOMATICALLY translate to Native Americans? Can you not possibly accept that people are complex and don't just have "one view" ? Or has that been outlawed by the press now as "too simplistic" ? 


GumpChun
GumpChun

That is false. The name was used prior to that date by the English and in a negative way. So that claim by Ives Goddard has been debunked. 

And you forget, because you aren't thinking, that the NAtive Americans were over 500 tribes and languages. What was said in the Northeast by any one tribe has ZERO bearing on how the rest of Native Americans referred to themselves.

The name "Redskin" was picked by the racist, segregationist bigot and team owner George Preston Marshall, a guy who hated blacks so much, the Redskins were the last team to bar black players. Marshall left a philanthropic charity fund after he died, which stated it could never be used for helping end segregation. 

"Redskin is first recorded in the late 17th century and was applied to the Algonquian peoples generally, but specifically to the Delaware (who lived in what is now southern New York State and New York City, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania). Redskin referred not to the natural skin color of the Delaware, but to their use of vermilion face paint and body paint.[11] The indigenous peoples of the continent had no common identity, and referred to themselves using individual tribal names, which is also preferred to the present day. Group identity for Native Americans only emerged during the late 18th and early 19th century, in the context of negotiations between many tribes signing a single treaty with the United States.[12]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redskin_(slang)