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Redskins attack Senator by quoting Rick Reilly’s infamous father-in-law column

Getty_S_051013_Redskins Getty Images

When Redskins owner Daniel Snyder wrote (or at least read and signed) an open letter defending the team’s name, he didn’t mention Rick Reilly’s then-recent column, in which Reilly quotes his Native American father-in-law as not being offended by the term.

Not long after that, Reilly’s father-in-law claimed that he was misquoted by Reilly.

Fast forward to the latest challenge to the name, coming from a bipartisan letter from two members of Congress.  The team’s initial response had been to play the “doesn’t Congress have better things to do?” wild card, and to issue a statement regarding its new, presumably as-needed “community voices” series, in which unsolicited and unvetted emails and letters of people claiming to be Native American or related to Native Americans explain that they aren’t offended by a term that an increasing number of agree is offensive.

Though not issued by the team or posted on its website or linked via its Twitter page, the Redskins issued a statement that was printed verbatim by FOX News, under the loaded headline “Dem Senator Shredded By Washington Redskins For Phony-Name Change Plea

The statement, and the FOX News headline, ignore that a Republican also signed the letter.

In the statement (as noted by Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post), the team uses quotes from Reilly’s controversial column that were provided by a school superintendent in the home state of said “Dem Senator.”  The superintendent says the students at a high school with a 90-percent Native American population aren’t offended by their “Redskins” nickname.

It’s a fair point, but reliance on a column known far more for Reilly allegedly misquoting his Native American father-in-law surely isn’t the best way to make the case that the name isn’t offensive.

And the team likely realizes this, because the statement doesn’t mention Reilly by name.

UPDATE 4:50 p.m. ET:  As some have pointed out, it’s possible that the Redskins didn’t actually send out the statement.  On Tuesday, Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie told PFT that it is a statement from the team.

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18 Responses to “Redskins attack Senator by quoting Rick Reilly’s infamous father-in-law column”
  1. Dolphins Nation says: Feb 12, 2014 4:50 PM

    I like how they say the name doesn’t offend Native Americans but do not use the term Redskins. Why not just say the name doesn’t offend Redskins instead of Native Americans. Address them as Redskins if it is not offensive.

  2. hlmatty1 says: Feb 12, 2014 4:51 PM

    Sorry, but a letter from TWO people, one a Dem Senator and one a Republican congressman, does not make anything “bipartisan.” have 60 legislators song something, with half Republicans and half Dems and maybe you have something “bipartisan.” And who gives a flying ___ what some Dem Senator says or threatens. You think Harry Reid is going to pass legislation saying the NFL has no tax exemption anymore? Or the House Republicans will go along with it? Think any of them want to see a football game anymore? So stop the nonsense with this ridiculous story.

  3. meatcarroll says: Feb 12, 2014 4:54 PM

    Change the goddamn name already, Racial Slurs. My whole family and I are full blooded First Nations peoples and we’ve found this filthy racial epithet demeaning and horribly derogatory for decades. But our protests and indignation have always fallen on deaf ears until now.

  4. slbasegame257 says: Feb 12, 2014 4:54 PM

    This is just another media driven story. The media builds the issue up to a frenzy to generate huge ratings and internet hits. If the name was universally offensive to Native Americans then there would have been protests 20, 30 years ago. Its the greedy media who stand to make tons of money off this story that are to blame.

  5. sc711 says: Feb 12, 2014 4:58 PM

    What we can do is to stop giving the 2004 NAES credit as any definitive measure of the offensiveness of the term “Redskins,” especially in 2013.

    One thing that could be done is to conduct some sort of new survey to gauge how people feel. Wait, what? This has been done? On Wednesday, October 16, 2013 the Oneida Nation released the results of a poll they conducted of residents in the Washington, D.C. Metro area. Turns out that 44% of people polled thought the name should be changed once they realized that the dictionary defines the word as offensive.

  6. 3yardsndust says: Feb 12, 2014 4:58 PM

    Dan Snyder needs to go back to his day job.

  7. rc33 says: Feb 12, 2014 5:02 PM

    Thank you for your service to our country, Senators.
    All is well.
    Times are good, nothing to worry about here.

  8. tarheelpirate says: Feb 12, 2014 5:24 PM

    I foolishly thought that the Browns were the most incompetent organization in the NFL. I was wrong.

  9. 4thqtrsaint says: Feb 12, 2014 5:24 PM

    The more straws the Skins grab for, the more that seem to hit the ground.

  10. dbestpro says: Feb 13, 2014 12:21 PM

    As stated elsewhere, you do not need to change the name. All you need to do is change the logo to a potato.

  11. kswood75 says: Feb 13, 2014 2:07 PM

    ok let’s just talk facts:

    roughly 80% of all Native Americans live in Oklahoma, Where none of these complaints are coming from.

    I am a die hard Redskin fan engaged to a registered Kiowa native american. ( In fact was their Princess ) In case any of you are unaware most all tribes at an Anuall Pow Wow will elect a Tribal Princess

    The first time I met her Grandfather ( Again Kiowa Indian ) I wore my redskins shirt. And not once was he offended. In fact he began to tell me the Broncos were his team!!

    After living in Oklahoma and attending Many Pow Wow’s for Many Tribes I have learned that the Majority of Native Americans are Huge football fans. But Sadly most are Cowboys fans. uugghhh. But if you don’t see the Irony in that you never need weigh in on this subject so long as you live

  12. PriorKnowledge says: Feb 13, 2014 2:53 PM

    in the 1953 Disney animated film, “Peter Pan,” Captain Hook refers to the Native American people as “redskins.” If Disney used it, then it wasn’t derogatory then. So the term only became derogatory when people started to get PC.

  13. defscottyb says: Feb 14, 2014 4:37 AM

    This whole “issue” will only make the Redskins even more famous than they already are and the name won’t change. Epic Fail

  14. fuego624 says: Feb 14, 2014 5:29 PM

    The name should never change. Media claims native Americans are offended by the redskins name. There are plenty of native Americans that love the name. So unless every single native American comes together and ask for a name change it will never happen. HTTR

  15. washingtonwin says: Feb 14, 2014 7:46 PM

    Why don’t they change CONGRESS name to lame ducks ? I find congress offensive for medaling into things that are none of there biz wax .
    They ( CONGRESS ) cant fix our DEBT PROBLEMS but can medal into things they should leave alone .
    It seems CONGRESS should LEARN how to do there real JOBS and worry about our DEBT CEILING THAN INTO A TEAMS NAME .
    SHUT THE EFFFFFF UP CONGRESS AND WORRY ABOUT YOUR OWN JOB YOU SO POORLY DO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Feb 14, 2014 11:30 PM

    “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”
    -Mark Twain

  17. klogan77 says: Feb 15, 2014 5:47 PM

    I am a Redskins fan who lives in Ohio and I am part Cherokee. I have written my Senator telling him that he needs to do the people’s business and keep his PC friends out of a sports team.

  18. pftcensor1 says: Feb 20, 2014 2:30 PM

    “…people claiming to be Native American or related to Native Americans …”

    All it takes to be Native American is to self-identify as Native American. Senator Elizabeth Warren established this precedent.

    You don’t get to have it cut both ways to suit your needs. Either we require lineage be established and documented or we simply allow anyone to “self-identify” as what they want.

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