July 18, 2014

Marshall's daughter: "Change the name"

Op-Ed: Marshalling One Key Vote On An NFL Team Name Change

By Leonard ShapiroAt a tailgate party during the Middleburg spring races, a woman walked up and introduced herself, wondering if I was the same reporter who used to cover the National Football League and the local pro football team for The Washington Post.

The answer was yes, at which point, long-time Washingtonian Jordan Wright told me she was the granddaughter of George Preston Marshall, the original owner of the Washington (pardon the derogatory expression) Redskins when he moved the team here from Boston back in 1937.

We had a perfectly pleasant chat, recalling that many of the same people who used to work for Marshall were still on the job for the team when I covered it in the 1970s. Finally, though, I couldn’t help myself. I had to ask. What about this whole team name controversy, I wondered, fully expecting she’d be soundly in favor of the status quo.

Not so.

“They need to change the name,” she said. “In this day and age, it’s just not right.”
Comment:  Let's see. In the last few days:

  • The blogger who uncovered George Allen's "macaca" joined the team, then quit after his own ethnic slurs were revealed

  • Activists called for a boycott of Redskins sponsor FedEx and tried to raise the issue at a shareholders' meeting

  • Sonny Sixkiller, a major Native pro athlete, called the Redskins name "racist"

  • The Quechan tribe rejected a donation from Redskins OAF, calling it a bribe

  • Musician Drake joked about the Redskins' racism at the ESPYs awards ceremony

  • CBS's people may be the first of many on-air announcers to avoid the Redskins name

  • George Preston Marshall's granddaughter, who should know the original owner's thinking as well as anyone, says the name should go

  • I'm sure glad the Redskins think they're winning the PR battle. If I were them, I'd be thinking of heading for the hills with my tail between my legs.

    Seven major PR hits in a couple of weeks. And that's after the Patent and Trademark Office ruled against the Redskins trademark. If that's winning, I'd hate to see losing.

    In reality, this looks like one of the biggest PR debacles in modern business history. It's a textbook example of how you can suffer bad PR day after day until you're the joke of the industry. In other words, a laughingstock.

    Since he's embracing it so eagerly, this must be Dan Snyder's goal. For some reason, he wants to be known as the biggest racist since his predecessor Marshall. Okay, Dan...you've got your wish.

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