Opinion | Sports

Opinion: About that letter from Washington football team owner






YouTube: NCAI Campaign: Proud To Be
Dave Zirin critiques a letter from Washington football team owner Dan Snyder to fans announcing the Original Americans Foundation:
To Everyone in our Washington Redskins Nation:

Several months ago I wrote you about my personal reflections on our team name and on our shared Washington Redskins heritage.

A heritage marked by being the last team in the NFL to integrate and a heritage that was launched by the proudly racist and arch segregationist minstrel lover, George Preston Marshall. He is, to use the parlance of the moment, on the Mt. Rushmore of evil bastards in sports history. I'm starting to think that Snyder wants to knock him off of his perch.

I wrote then—and believe even more firmly now—that our team name captures the best of who we are and who we can be, by staying true to our history and honoring the deep and enduring values our name represents.

To be “true” to your “history,” you would need to make your coach wear feathers in his hair, lie about him being Native American and then trade away all of your black players. The “values” the name represents can be summed up in a story I heard from a young woman named Mary from the Omaha Nation who spoke about how it would be shouted when bullies would hurt her at school. Her narrative and the narratives of others actually damaged by this name never enter Snyder's consciousness.

In that letter, I committed myself to listening and learning from all voices with a perspective about our Washington Redskins name.

This is a lie. Daniel Snyder has actually refused to meet with the Oneida Nation, the Choctaw Nation, the Red Cloud Nation, the Seminole Nation and every tribal council that has voted to call upon Snyder to change the name.

Get the Story:
Dave Zirin: About That Open Letter Dan Snyder Just Sent to ‘Redskins Nation’ (The Nation 3/25)

More Opinions:
Kent Bush: How important is a team name? (The Cambridge Chronicle 3/27)
Rick Brown: A Grand Move That Doesn't Feel Right (The Lakeland Ledger 3/27)

Related Stories:
Cherokee man serves as CEO of 'Original Americans Foundation' (3/26)
Column: Dan Snyder's new charity comes with strings attached (3/26)
Editorial: Helping Native people means changing racist mascot (3/26)
NCAI calls foundation a 'publicity stunt' by football team owner (3/25)
Football team owner announces 'Original Americans Foundation' (3/25)
NPR Ombudsman: Limit use of Washington football team name (03/21)
Dine Medicine Men Association opposes racist football mascot (03/18)
DaShanne Stokes: Racist Americans cling to football mascot (3/17)
Navajo Nation leaders speak out against 'disparaging' mascots (3/14)
Bill in Maryland urges new name for Washington football team (3/12)
Jacqueline Keeler: Peter MacDonald doesn't speak for Navajos (3/11)