Redskins owner Dan Snyder hasn’t changed his feelings about the calls for him to change his team’s nickname. But he has changed his tone in responding to those calls.
In a letter to season ticket holders, Snyder softened his approach from the blunt “NEVER” he has previously exclaimed when asked whether he might change the name. Now Snyder says he understands and respects the people who view “Redskins” as a racial slur, even as Snyder believes that they’re wrong.
“I’ve listened carefully to the commentary and perspectives on all sides, and I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name,” Snyder wrote. “But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too.”
Snyder is continuing to rely on public opinion polling to support his view that the Redskins shouldn’t change their name, including one poll that showed a majority of Native Americans are not offended by the team’s name, and another poll that showed the vast majority of Americans as a whole believe the team should continue to be called the Redskins.
That, however, may be a precarious position for Snyder to stake out. After all, public opinion can change. If another poll comes out finding that 51 percent of Native Americans want the Redskins to change their name, will Snyder make the change?
Ultimately, there may not be anything that can persuade Snyder to change. Snyder says the term “Redskins” is a source of pride, both for himself and for millions of fans.
“After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins’ continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come,” Snyder wrote.
So despite his softer tone, Snyder’s fundamental stance hasn’t changed: He has no intention of changing the team’s name.