The controversy about whether the Redskins name is racist or not continues to boil over and even the President weighed in on the side of at least considering a change. His opinion doesn’t matter but mine does.
Let me first say that I have been a Redskin fan since I lived in northern Virginia from 1969 – 1971. I went to their training camp three different years, had my picture made with three time Super Bowl winner Coach Joe Gibbs, got numerous autographs and went to see them play twice. The Redskins became my team when Unitas, Berry, Moore and Ameche retired from the Colts, who were in Baltimore at the time.
I’m not certain what needs to be done. Many folks, including the super - rich and often disliked Washington owner Dan Snyder, think we need to just leave it alone. The name is meant to honor Indians, who were in the Washington area centuries before anyone else. Is the name Redskins an honor or a serious insult with over 6 decades of history? Indian groups also disagree as to a possible change.
Naturally a change would be expensive but, to me that doesn’t matter. Do we change the name to Red “something” or do we come up with an entirely different name? That’s been done in some colleges such as Rutgers and Marquette but ignored at Florida State and Utah.
While we are on the subject of offending Native Americans, a famous national columnist wrote recently that if one person was offended, a change should be made. I profoundly disagree. Everything offends someone somewhere.
I think the problem hinges on the question of political correctness. Where do we draw the line? Is there more than just this one mascot in question? What about any name with Devils in it such as Arizona State, Duke, Germantown, Lebanon or, my heavens, Kittrell. What about Rebels which is a Civil War reference? If the nickname of the Norte Dame and the Father Ryan Fighting Irish or the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota are not stereotyping then I don’t know what is. What do the Kingsport Dobyns Bennett Indians do or the numerous other teams that use the name Indians, such as Cleveland?
What about the Atlanta Braves and the Kansas City Chiefs? Of more importance, what about the Barfield Braves? Would there be blood in the streets if Riverdale was told to drop Warriors and adopt something else. That would mean the names Tribe and Reservation would disappear along with the name of the two mile long Warrior Drive. It’s not just teams either – we have numerous streets, subdivisions and even a golf course with Indian names and a school, Black Fox, named to honor an Indian. Carried to its logical ending, the state of Indiana and its capitol city have a serious problem but not near as serious as Oklahoma. Let’s discuss the names of various businesses around the country along with other states (including Tennessee), cities, bodies of water and counties. No, let’s not. I think you see the problem.
So, what to do with the Redskins? When this name was chosen it was absolutely not intended to be an insult to Indians and still isn’t but has evolved over the years, in a society that celebrates diversity, to be insulting. The name Redskins is on the wrong side of the line that I just drew in my head. If you started a team today would you name it Redskins? I didn’t think so. Have a contest, come up with some options, let Washington season ticket holders vote and change the name in time for the 2015 season. It’s time.