President Obama thinks Redskins owner Dan Snyder should consider changing the team’s name.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Obama was asked what he makes of the controversy surrounding the Redskins nickname. Although Obama said he doesn’t believe the Redskins or their fans are trying to offend anyone, he did say he believes that enough Native Americans are offended by it that it’s something the team needs to weigh.
“If I were the owner of the team and I knew that the name of my team, even if they’ve had a storied history, that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it,” Obama said.
Obama did not say he believes the Redskins need to change their name, and he did not suggest that the government should take any action to compel the Redskins to change their name. But the mere fact of the President of the United States suggesting that changing the name might be a good idea shows just how hot a topic this has become.
Snyder can say all he wants that he’ll never change the Redskins’ name. But the pressure on him to re-think that position is mounting.
UPDATE 1:23 p.m. ET: Lanny Davis, an attorney and spokesman for the Redskins, told NBC’s Kristen Welker: “As a supporter of President Obama, I am sure the president is not aware that in the highly respected Annenberg Institute poll (taken 2004) with a national sample of Native Americans, 9 out of 10 Native Americans said they were not bothered by the name the ‘Washington Redskins.’ The president made these comments to the Associated Press, but he was apparently unaware that an April 2013 AP poll showed that eight out of ten of all Americans in a national sample don’t think the Washington Redskins name should be changed.
“We at the Redskins respect everyone. But like devoted fans of the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks (from President Obama’s home town), we love our team and its name and, like those fans, we do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group. The name ‘Washington Redskins’ is 80 years old – it’s our history and legacy and tradition. We Redskins fans sing ‘hail to the Redskins’ every Sunday as a word of honor not disparagement.”