Opinion | Sports

Column: Washington team name leaves stain on our culture

Columnist discusses the Washington football team name and how it affected the lives of two young boys, including a Mohawk former fan:
This is about two boys, both football fans. One spent most of his childhood in Maryland. He also lived in England for a year when he was 12, and New York for a year after that, but the time away did not change his idea of home. The boy's name was Daniel Snyder, and there was never any doubt what he would do on NFL Sundays. He once told the Washingtonian magazine that even when his family didn't have a television, he and his dad would go to a store to watch football. He would cheer for Washington.

The other boy grew up in upstate New York. His name is Stephen Fadden, and he is Native American, though nobody really used that term when he was a kid in the 1960s. He spent vacations with his grandparents on the nearby Mohawk reservation. And so, when he saw those famous red helmets, there was no doubt. It was the feather on it that sold him. He would cheer for the Redskins.

The boys were born 11 years apart. They did not know each other, but you can imagine them sitting together on a couch, watching their beloved Washington Redskins on television, wearing their fandom on their sleeves, their chests, their heads -- wherever the merchandise fit. You can see them high-fiving and talking easily for hours about their favorite team -- bonding instantly, the way sports fans do.

Snyder, of course, became a billionaire, and in 1999, he did what very few American men have ever done: He bought the team he cheered for as a child. By then, Stephen Fadden had stopped cheering for them.

Get the Story:
Michael Rosenberg: Is the Redskins name offensive? For many, it just feels wrong (Sports Illustrated 9/27)

Also Today:
Steven Salaita: Nothing scarier than a nervous white man: The “Redskins” debate is really about white privilege (Salon.com 9/29)

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