Opinion | Sports

Column: Changes afoot for Washington football team mascot

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd takes a look at the controversy surrounding the Washington professional football team's mascot:
In the middle of budget Armageddon here, President Obama found a moment to address the notoriety about the Washington team name when he was asked about it by The A.P. “Obviously, people get pretty attached to team names, mascots,” said the president, who recently experienced a racist rodeo clown incident. But, he added: “I’ve got to say that if I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team, even if it had a storied history, that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”

The N.F.L. commissioner, Roger Goodell, is feeling the heat. He understands Washington a lot better than the stubborn Snyder. Goodell has enough problems with the league being stigmatized for allegedly cloaking the dangers of concussions. (Even Obama has said that, if he had a son, he would think long and hard before letting him play football.)

Goodell doesn’t want Congress pressing safety issues with the N.F.L. and he doesn’t want to alienate people with bigotry. So why not appease critics on a name? When Snyder vowed last May never to change it, Goodell backed him up, calling the name a “unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.” But as the tempest whirled, Goodell has jumped off Dan’s bus.

At the end of the N.F.L. fall meeting here on Tuesday, Goodell told reporters that he grew up in Washington rooting for the Redskins and never considered the name “derogatory.” But, he added, “we need to listen, carefully listen, and make sure we’re doing what’s right.”

Get the Story:
Maureen Dowd: Call an Audible, Dan (The New York Times 10/9)

Another Opinion:
Roxanne Jones: Obama is right about 'Redskins' (CNN 10/8)

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