By Dave Zirin
Just after the lights slightly dimmed and the program began, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder walked through the door. It was bracing, and not only because this is someone I have written about critically for years, without ever actually seeing face to face (surprisingly fit!). But the shock ran deeper than my own personal feelings. Having Dan Snyder at an event that celebrates minority hiring is like seeing Michele Bachmann at a mosque. The Redskins in their entire history have never hired a full-time African-American head coach* or general manager. Snyder just continued this dismal tradition by making Jay Gruden, a coordinator with a famous name and no head coaching experience in the NFL, his new man in charge.
Meanwhile, Roger Goodell has backtracked from his previous position, which I reported in NFL's Goodell Softens on "Redskins":
NFL's Roger Goodell endorses 'Redskins' name
By Tom Silverstein
In his annual state of the NFL news conference Friday, Goodell was asked if he would feel comfortable addressing a Native American as a Redskin.
"This is the name of a football team, a football team that has had that name for 80 years," Goodell said. "That has presented the name in a way that is honorable to Native Americans. We recognize that many don't agree with the name. And we respect that.
"But if you look at the numbers, including the Native American communities, the Native American community poll, nine out of 10 prefer the name; eight of 10 Americans in the general population would not like us to change the name. So we are listening and being respectful to people who disagree."
If it isn't clear, Goodell's answer is no or he would've said yes. Neither he nor any intelligent person would call an Indian "redskin" to his or her face. Why not? Because it's a frakkin' insult...duh.
Responses to Goodell
Roger Goodell ‘Isn’t Listening’ to Native Americans on Redskins Name
“It is deeply troubling that with the Super Bowl happening on lands that were once home to Native Americans, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would use the event as a platform to insist that the dictionary-defined R-word racial slur against Native Americans is somehow a sign of honor,” said Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter.
“Commissioner Goodell represents a $9-billion brand with global reach, yet insists that it is somehow no big deal that his league uses those vast resources to promote this slur. In the process, he conveniently ignores all the social science research showing that the NFL’s promotion of this word has serious cultural and psychological effects on native peoples. Worse, he cites the heritage of the team’s name without mentioning that the name was given to the team by one of America’s most famous segregationists, George Preston Marshall. He also somehow doesn’t mention the heritage of the R-word itself, which was as an epithet screamed at Native Americans as they were forced at gunpoint off their lands.”
“The fact that Mr. Goodell doesn’t seem to know any of this–or is deliberately ignoring it–suggests that for all his claims to be listening, he isn’t listening at all.”
The Washington Redskins and the NFL aren’t defending people; they’re defending an iconic and lucrative brand. To claim otherwise is beyond insulting to the generations of people whose ancestors suffered centuries of unimaginable cruelty, poverty, treachery and injustice at the hands of the European conquerors, wrongs that remain unresolved to this day.
Goodale even trotted out a decade-old poll that found 9 of 10 Native Americans supported the name. Even if it were true today—and it’s not—it would be irrelevant. Public opinion is an effective ally in the pursuit of justice, but it’s no substitute for doing the right thing.
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