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De Smith says Washington team name conveys “racial insensitivity”

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Getty Images

Last week, NFLPA president Eric Winston said the union didn’t plan to get in the middle of the dispute regarding the name of the Washington NFL franchise.  Now, the NFLPA is sort of in the middle of it.

In a statement issued to the Washington Post in response to the letter sent by more than 75 Native American and civil rights groups to all players urging opposition to the Washington team name, NFLPA DeMaurice Smith explains that the name reflects “racial insensitivity.”

“I have conveyed my thoughts on this issue both to Roger and to the team,” Smith said. “They understand our position and I believe that those conversations are most effective when they can remain private.  As I have stated publicly, though, I do not believe anyone should inflict pain, embarrass or insult, especially given the racial insensitivity of the term ‘Redskin.’  As you know, I grew up here and like all Washingtonians I became a fan of this team.  The beauty of sports and of the Washington football franchise is that it will always have the ability to bring this community together, regardless of what decision is made about the team name.”

While the union officially tiptoes around the political hot potato, the NFL’s players are in position to do a cannonball into the deep end, if they choose to do so.  The open call for all of them to publicly oppose the name coupled with Thursday’s hashtag debacle could (and arguably should) prompt players to speak their minds about the team’s name.

It will take some courage.  In this age of free agency, it’s not wise to close one of the 32 available doorways to employment.  But if doing the right thing were always easy, then everyone would always do the right thing, right?

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74 Responses to “De Smith says Washington team name conveys “racial insensitivity””
  1. kingmj4891 says: May 30, 2014 10:00 AM

    Watch out everyone here is DeMaurice Smith about to try to make his big break out. He is gonna try to rise to fame by trying to get the skins to change their name. He has been plotting a move like this since he became head of the NFLPA. He does not care about the NFL or the players as seen in the last CBA. He has just been waiting for this moment so he can try to go on and have a political career. I hope the NFL smacks him down again like they did in the CBA negotiations.

  2. thestrategyexpert says: May 30, 2014 10:00 AM

    Good question and makes you wonder what things would be like if the environment for all people was more conducive to seeing the right thing manifest itself more often than it does. The end result would be increased happiness in life for everybody, or at least that’s my theory.

  3. penvik says: May 30, 2014 10:04 AM

    The right thing to do would be to promote the name Redskins as much as possible. No matter which team the players are part of they need to stand together and all wear the Redskin name proud and loud. Let’s bury these racist punks who are trying to make an issue out of absolutely nothing. If Redskins is racist than sadly Vikings would be racist too, because it labels some as barbaric and ruthless. Now do you see how stupid that sounds??!! Drop this nonsense, nothing wrong with Redskins at all. There would also be no issue with names like Whiteskins, Blackskins, Brownskins, either. What are people ashamed of the colour of their skin? If so than that is the problem and that’s a mental issue not a racial one.

  4. El Pollo Loco says: May 30, 2014 10:09 AM

    Redskins redskins redskins redskins redskins

  5. jfkelly1 says: May 30, 2014 10:12 AM

    Like any other PC “feel good” issue, if the name changes, nothing changes for the betterment of the so called offended people. Look how all the problems women faced suddenly ended after women were admitted to Augusta! As always, symbolism over substance.

  6. greenbaydean says: May 30, 2014 10:12 AM

    Really tired of the “outrage” about the name Redskins. The team is privately owned. Want the name changed? Vote with your wallet. Stop watching the games, stop buying the merchandise, ect. Until then, stop your whining….

  7. jimmyt says: May 30, 2014 10:13 AM

    Well, if the great De Smith says something then by all means it must be the right thing.

  8. thraiderskin says: May 30, 2014 10:17 AM

    REDSKINS!

  9. jjb0811 says: May 30, 2014 10:19 AM

    As a kid of the 70′s & 80′s it was Cowboys vs Indians. But the name Cowboys isn’t contrived as hate.

  10. pftthoughtpolicemostwanted says: May 30, 2014 10:19 AM

    Says the man who once said ‘its time to go back to the mattresses’ when he was trying to squeeze the league and its fans for more dough

  11. chunkala says: May 30, 2014 10:21 AM

    Buying so many shirts this summer.
    Where does this end? What percentage of the population do we have to bow down to? If people are offended by something is that enough to suffice? Just ludicrous at this point.

  12. phillyguyindc says: May 30, 2014 10:22 AM

    De Smith has been talking to the media alot lately. Is his term running out shortly?

  13. thebirdofprey2 says: May 30, 2014 10:31 AM

    Because a name was inappropriately used for a franchise for a long period of time doesn’t give it the right to continue into the future.

    There name is loaded as the “N” word that’s how far back the history goes. There is no honor in that name and to the ignorant trying to defend it, read a little on North American history and you will understand why educated people are taking a stand.

  14. thinredline69 says: May 30, 2014 10:32 AM

    Will the Redskins’ fan base deteriorate to where home-game attendance suffers if the name isn’t changed? OF COURSE NOT.

    However, might fans protest by not attending if such a change is implemented? YOU BET.

    Is anyone else fed up with all this political-correctness pollution?

  15. Asian Reporter Tricia Takanawa says: May 30, 2014 10:33 AM

    We have become a nation of whiney candy azzes. I understand some people look at the name and think it is insensitive and needs to change. I can appreciate that position. I just think it is going too far. When do we stop??? When do we sit back and say, oh well, get over it?

    Every one on the ” you need to accept this, that, and the other thing” crowd preaches about tolerance, yet they are completely intolerant of those that have opposing views. I am not saying all views are right, but everyone is allowed to have what ever opinion they want, regardless of whether you like it or not. (And to make things clear, I am on the tolerance side of the argument, I agree with gay marriage, etc, I am just not blind).

    This situation might be in your favor, but a time will come when you are on the other side of the fence, so think about that. We are 20 years, or less, away from having nothing in America. It is ridiculous to even consider, but I guarantee it will never stop. Soon there will be no more vanilla ice cream because it is offensive to non whites. And in turn we have to get rid of chocolate and coffee as well. We wont have christmas, or hanukka, or any other holiday because it is offensive to all of those that celebrate something else. We will all work minimum wage jobs because those that worked hard to accomplish more have offended the lazy POS down the street. Every woman will have to get a breast reduction or implants to ensure that all boobs are the same size, so that smaller chested women cant be offended by larger chested women, and vice versa. There will be no soda, no alcohol, just water, so that no one can be offended by one brand over another. There will be no sports, because tortured fans like those in cleveland (no disrespect intended) will be offended that teams like the Yankees have too many titles.

    It sounds absolutely asinine, but that is where we are headed. Is the name Redskins potentially offensive? Yes, I agree that in the right context it is offensive. But this isnt an offensive context. They arent the Washington I Hate Those Lazy Redskins, they are the Washington Redskins.

    If you want to sway me to get on board with the name change, then you will first have to outlaw the use of the N word. In America, it has been said over and over and over that in the right context, the N word is ok, and in the wrong context (or spoken by someone of the wrong color), it is offensive. As far as I am concerned, I find the N word offensive every time it is used, regardless of who used it. The word redskin is the exact same thing. If Dan S cant use the name redskins for his football team, because someone throws a blanket over the use of the word and deams all uses as derogatory, then we need to throw that blanket over the N word, when that happens, I am all ears for your redskin fight

  16. neilpountney says: May 30, 2014 10:34 AM

    I love all the politicians and public figures involved in this. I wonder if they aware that the government of America still owes billions of dollars to various Indian tribes and has never sought to pay them, but all of a sudden the name of Football team is THAT important…really????

  17. jeff d. says: May 30, 2014 10:34 AM

    I was out in the sun yesterday and got a bad burn. Now my skin is red. Someone called me a Redskin. I’m offended.

  18. painsyndicate says: May 30, 2014 10:39 AM

    Until the money flowing into NFL coffers is significantly affected nothing will be done about the name PERIOD. I don’t think this vocal minority has the ability to change the bottom line by .001%.

  19. politicallyincorrect says: May 30, 2014 10:41 AM

    and I say DSmith is an ignorant intolerant politically motivated thief…

    Hail to the Redskins!

  20. citizenstrange says: May 30, 2014 10:42 AM

    As many others have written things change and evolve over time. The time for Redskins being an acceptable team name has passed. It’s really as simple as that.

  21. donl517 says: May 30, 2014 10:43 AM

    They should just move to L.A.

  22. jimmysee says: May 30, 2014 10:43 AM

    Another country heard from.

    The name will change.

  23. purpleguy says: May 30, 2014 10:44 AM

    But, but caucasian redskins fans, 90% of americans (ie, non-native americans) in a trumped up poll, and a majority of carefully selected native Americans in another old trumped up poll don’t find this name offensive; rather, political correctness run amok. So there. It’s not like the name was used derogatorily in the past for an ethnic group that was oppressed (unlike the Vikings). Oh wait. . . . .

  24. andrewluck12 says: May 30, 2014 10:48 AM

    I wonder what smiths minions have to say about this situation.

  25. spilldog2014 says: May 30, 2014 10:49 AM

    We have been a franchise for over 80 years. Boston Redskins now Washington Redskins. Snyder & Allen you keep standing strong fellows. Screw the politicians. Worry about all the other problems in the US, other than a freaking sports teams nickname. Give me a break guys. Go work on our health insurance issues. NOW THERE’S A START. Hail to the REDSKINS!!!

  26. scrp2 says: May 30, 2014 10:54 AM

    Anything that depletes Dan Snyder’s bank account is OK by me.

  27. nicofthenorthstar says: May 30, 2014 10:58 AM

    Unbelievably cowardly and wishy-washy response by the union. Any hint of racism toward AA would, and does, have them up in arms. And rightfully so, when justified. Racism towards other groups is completely tolerable, though.
    Now where’s my five-percent nation medallion?

  28. mshawn75 says: May 30, 2014 11:01 AM

    So, the players should be “vocal” against the Redskins name. But, accept Daniel Snyder’s money when they become free agents. Pretty hypocritical since I’m sure “The Redskins” is printed somewhere on the check. None of them care what the teams name is, or what the logo is, as long as the check clears.

  29. raymondtx says: May 30, 2014 11:04 AM

    Just change the name. Would Blackskins? YellowSkins? or Brownskins be tolerated??? Change the name already, and stop with the close minded comments.

  30. kenny2neworleans says: May 30, 2014 11:06 AM

    I guess other religions are gonna want my saints to change their name too!

  31. justwinbaby29 says: May 30, 2014 11:08 AM

    These politically correct progressives want to turn the United States into Russia, China and Iran. Is that what so many of our countrymen died for in battle?

  32. fwippel says: May 30, 2014 11:10 AM

    Hail to the Redskins!

  33. DitkasHair says: May 30, 2014 11:16 AM

    Why not just change the name to the ‘SKINS’? Seems pretty simple to me, and they can play the ‘SHIRTS’…..

  34. gary2525 says: May 30, 2014 11:20 AM

    They r named after a potato….lol leave them alone there r more important things to worry about in this world then a name that’s been around for a long time

  35. sisuenkeli says: May 30, 2014 11:32 AM

    How about the Hogskins?

  36. tonyc920 says: May 30, 2014 11:43 AM

    De Smith, stay out of this. Do you think you’re Jesse Jackson ? We don’t care what you think in regards to this particular subject. You are paid to take care of player relations and you have had issues with that so keep your nose out of this. I’m not even a Redskins fan and I find this entire situation total B.S.
    I suppose PETA will come after “my team” saying that the name is insensitive to those who don’t eat meat and that the name is emblematic of killing animals. The Packers were named after ACME PACKING, a slaughter house from back in the 20′s and 30′s. They donated the money for uniforms and equipment to keep the team afloat.

  37. bushwoodcc says: May 30, 2014 11:44 AM

    If DeSmith opposes it then I am even more convinced they should keep the name.

  38. southpaw79 says: May 30, 2014 11:50 AM

    All the people that are strongly against the name Redskins should start a group fund and have everyone place money into it. Once Dan Snyder changes the name, he gets what ever is in the fund. Or, instead of worry about the name, you could just give that fund to your local Tribe or a credible Native American organization to actually make a difference in their lives. How come I doubt the majority of you would actually put your money behind this “cause” of yours.

  39. deljzc says: May 30, 2014 11:53 AM

    I am in favor of the team of keeping the Redskins name and native american imagery/logo.

  40. burnzido says: May 30, 2014 11:56 AM

    The “right thing” to do would be for the players call it like it is. Political Nonsense. The media trying to sway public opinion. Senators wasting taxpayers time and money on nonsensical issues. This whole thing is just plain stupid.

  41. honkerdawg says: May 30, 2014 12:02 PM

    Amazing how the name never bothered anyone for 50 some years now everyone with a agenda feels it should be changed. If so, the change the Atlanta Braves, Cleve Indians etc at least in Washington they don’t wave rubber tomahawks

  42. orangeisthenewblue says: May 30, 2014 12:07 PM

    I like what someone said earlier. Don’t like the name, get a couple hundred mil. Buy the team and change it. I love the skins purely because I hate the cowboys! REDSKINS!!

  43. bullcharger says: May 30, 2014 12:08 PM

    These politically correct progressives want to turn the United States into Russia, China and Iran. Is that what so many of our countrymen died for in battle?

    —————————-

    That isn’t the goal of any of the people that want to change the team name. Your Native American countrymen also died in battle to make the United States what it is today. Why do you want to support a team name that offends your countrymen?

  44. coachbeck says: May 30, 2014 12:14 PM

    Next PETA will be upset about teams names after animals. Where is the line drawn?

  45. pftcensor1 says: May 30, 2014 12:20 PM

    Would you feel comfortable walking onto a reservation and saying “What’s up Chief?”

  46. weepingjebus says: May 30, 2014 12:25 PM

    Ahh, so the same progressive civil rights groups that brought us domestic surveillance, driving millions out of healthcare policies under IRS threat, and letting vets die on wait lists for government healthcare think a sports team name is insensitive. Gotcha.

  47. abninf says: May 30, 2014 12:28 PM

    Red Mesa High Redskins, Navajo reservation. Lone Star Dietz, Native American, first coach of the Redskins. Enough said.

  48. pftcensor1 says: May 30, 2014 12:29 PM

    Instead of ensuring Veterans get access to reasonable health care the US Senate has different priorities…. you go Reid you go!

  49. skins1970 says: May 30, 2014 12:31 PM

    If someone wants the name changed just buy the team.Other then that suck it up and accept because the name isn’t changing end of discussion.

  50. fuzzman656 says: May 30, 2014 12:35 PM

    Let’s honor the fans of this team. Let’s change the name to Rednecks. Let’s make the new logo a cartoon of a redneck in a seed hat. Let’s do this for 60 years or so. Let’s start a new tradition .

  51. bouzouki8 says: May 30, 2014 12:38 PM

    If and when Roger Goodell, other NFL officials, Dan Snyder and other team owners and players refer to American Indians (yes, the term is still OK) or Native Americans as “Redskins” TO THEIR FACES, then I’d say go ahead and keep the name.

    How many readers of this blog have or ever would do that? I challenge any reader to walk on to the Navajo reservation in Arizona, Pine Ridge in South Dakota, Standing Rock in North Dakota, Osage in Oklahoma or Blackfeet Indian reservation in Montana and call them “redskins” and see what happens.

    This is about money, not about respecting culture. The story the team and NFL have used to justify the name’s existence as a “badge of honor” is not true, and the man who founded the team refuted it himself more than 80 years ago. This is now documented in a news clip, which ran in the Hartford (Conn.) Courant on July 5, 1933.

  52. nite2al says: May 30, 2014 12:44 PM

    Funny how you disregard the wishes of a real group of people over that of a football team name. Who’s the idiot?

  53. djshnooks says: May 30, 2014 12:48 PM

    Why not talk about the Chiefs? The Indians? The Seminoles?

    It’s all the same damn thing. Either do something or drop it…they have kept their traps shut for how many decades til now?

  54. qdog112 says: May 30, 2014 1:08 PM

    Not surprisingly, bigots defend their right to insult and disrespect any culture different from their own.

    De Smith is right and has as much right to an opinion as anyone who grew up a Washington Redskins fan. Most bigots lament living in the 21st century and desire living as if it were 1814 instead of 2014.

    If you don’t like where America is headed … LEAVE! Meanwhile stop whining nostalgic for the good ole days. We ain’t going back. Deal with it.

  55. thetruthcampaign says: May 30, 2014 1:13 PM

    I’m glad native Americans are stepping up for something.

  56. cashedrealitychecknowbroke says: May 30, 2014 1:17 PM

    Let’s play devils advocate. Let’s say Dan Snyder caves to the PC police and changes the name. Are Native Americans going to suddenly feel less oppressed? Are they suddenly going to get all of the money back the govt owes them? NOTHING will change other than a team name and a logo. If all of you that are suddenly offended by the Redskins that didn’t speak up until the band wagon came along REALLY want to help Native Americans, why don’t you push the govt into giving them the money that’s owed or help with education or a multitude of other REAL problems that face so many honorable tribes. That’s a cause worth fighting for!!

  57. thetruthcampaign says: May 30, 2014 1:17 PM

    How are Chiefs, Indians and Seminoles anything like Redskins? That comment shows you think nothing of native Americans and have no clue about what’s offensive to them. That’s like saying the Chinese and the Mongolians names are like the Chinks and the Yellow Slanty Eyes. Or the Blacks and the African Amercicans are like the team name the N——. As team names. Idiocy. Change the name!

  58. b3nz0z says: May 30, 2014 1:26 PM

    George Preston Marshall: “The fact that we have in our head coach, Lone Star Dietz, an Indian, together with several Indian players, has not, as may be suspected, inspired me to select the name Redskins.”
    Instead, Marshall explains, he gave up “Braves” to avoid confusion with a Boston professional baseball team of the same name. He apparently picked the Redskins name so he could keep the existing Native American logo.

    When he died in 1969, he directed that the bulk of his estate be used to set up a foundation in his name. He attached one condition: that the foundation should not direct a single dollar toward “any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.”

    Marshall was the last owner to accept a black player—15 years after the ban was lifted; only because it was forced to by the government— RFK Stadium was built on Department of Interior land

  59. 75rockrasin says: May 30, 2014 1:36 PM

    The skins are no strangers to racial controversy.
    Former owner George Preston Marshall was an avowed racist and refused to draft or sign African American players. That is until 1962 when the federal government threatened to end the lease and kick them out of what is now RFK stadium.

    I suggest they re-name to the Washington Senators.
    Both would be high paid underachivers ..

  60. lightningbuggs says: May 30, 2014 1:38 PM

    REDSKINS!!!!!

    I ask again, when are the Vancouver Canucks going to change their offensive name?

  61. dtr3e says: May 30, 2014 1:41 PM

    Washington already had a team change names once. Bullets to the Wizards because they thought the name promoted gun violence. Either everyone has a problem with everything, or Washington make poor decisions in what they call the pro teams.

  62. sylvester000001 says: May 30, 2014 1:56 PM

    Add Smith to the largest growing social group called The Misinformed.

    Simply put, saying it conveys racial insensitivity is showing an ignorance of, an ill-knowledge of, the topic at hand: which is the defining characteristic of The Misinformed. They believe something incorrectly then due to the ego of The Misinformed, cannot admit they made an uninformed and non-factual decision.

    The Misinformed therefore wreak havoc and division among society because it is better to burn a country down than to admit people The Misinformed decide are adversaries were the ones actually informed and correct. That admission cannot happen; it is a contradiction in the mind of The Misinformed. Think “2001: A Space Odyssey” when the HAL9000 computer was faced with contradiction, it melted down and attempted destruction to change the circumstances due to an inability to admit contradiction.

    That’s the result and damage wrought upon us by The Misinformed.

    They never took an attempt to understand the topic, have been proven wrong, and admission of mistake is in direct contradiction with how the mind of The Misinformed operates: that’s why they’re in fact misinformed.

    Their resulting dividing and tearing of society, and their ill-knowledge of topics and ill-knowledge of the results The Misinformed bring is why you must fight them, always. They won’t ever stop because they simply are not able.

    The name is not nor ever was racist, and The Misinformed refuse to grasp that. So they will never stop the fight because like an addict they are unable to admit they are wrong.

  63. marthisdil says: May 30, 2014 2:21 PM

    I’ll just leave this here…

    NO ONE had an issue with the Redskins name until the past year or so….when the media blew it up, etc, etc.

    Funny no one pushed this hard 10 years ago.

  64. b3nz0z says: May 30, 2014 2:23 PM

    someone’s refusing to grasp something, all right

  65. pmuraus says: May 30, 2014 2:25 PM

    When do you change Oklahoma? Because in translation it’s Redskin. Like banning the N word and still using kaffir.

  66. georgegsmiller says: May 30, 2014 2:34 PM

    This subject is a joke… the Team will never change the name. It is their RIGHT as a Private Business to keep the name. If you do not like it then don’t watch the games or the NFL.

    Anyone notice that the Democrat Senators from MD & VA did NOT sign the letter? I wonder why? This ($$$) is what this subject is all about. PC folks need to get a life.

  67. lightofkolob says: May 30, 2014 2:42 PM

    Why can’t the Redskins take the Fl State route? Keep the Logo and give the team a native tribe name or go by some heroic native name. You wouldn’t lose any tradition that way and would make this problem go away.

  68. notthetroll says: May 30, 2014 2:48 PM

    Ahh progressivism. The self proclaimed toilet paper of the world. Maybe in a parallel universe a successful native American tribe(like the one that owns Foxwoods Casino) bought the Redskins and never changed the name. Wonder if the progressives would be beating gums about the name if a Native tribe owned it instead of a white man.

  69. voiceofreasonays says: May 30, 2014 3:50 PM

    How about we let the Native Americans decide if it’s racist or not? And when 75-90% of them say it’s not racist, then we can forget about this and focus on real issues.

  70. engymass says: May 30, 2014 4:14 PM

    The issue is, unlike most people commenting on here, that it’s offensive to NATIVE AMERICANS !!! It’s not offensive to whites, blacks, browns, yellows, etc… so they won’t feel the need for outrage (demonstrated by the comments on here). We don’t hear much from Native American community, but when we do we have no reason to believe otherwise if their offended or not about an issue.

  71. tall4myage2013 says: May 30, 2014 5:11 PM

    Here’s a little test for all of you who are screaming that it only matters if a majority of Indians are offended, no matter what other races think.

    Lets say they changed the name to “The Washington Mighty Whiteys”. And, as would likely be the case, lets say a majority of white people had NO problem with this. In fact, merchandise sales would probably skyrocket as they did when an Indian college tried to protest this issue by naming their team the “fightin’ Whites”. By your standard, could that team name stay, or would it then matter if the blacks, browns, reds or yellows were offended?

    I submit that if that happened, even though a majority of whites were in favor of a name that was referring to ONLY whites, it would suddenly matter what the blacks, browns, reds and yellows thought. Because the first rule of PC is that minority opinion ALWAYS trumps.

  72. packfanaj12 says: May 30, 2014 5:18 PM

    Redskins is a degrading name for the Native American’s in this country, simple as that. Unfortunately the team has never intended it to be perceived that way by the organization… To avoid public controversy, and since derogatory terms are a heated discussion these days… The team should change their name. I know it is unfortunate for many fans, and very irritating for those who do not view it in that light… however some people do view it as very disturbing, and will speak out about it, and will not let this issue go away… Time to change the name…

  73. kev86 says: May 30, 2014 6:44 PM

    Why is changing the name such a big deal? Redskins is a stupid name anyway.

  74. wahoo21 says: May 30, 2014 7:10 PM

    Telling the Washington Redskins to change their name is like telling the US Military to rid themselves of all reference to Native American tribes, meanings and weapons.
    so much for the Tomahawk Missle, Apache Helicopters and the Currahee of the 101st

    There are other problems in this country that far out weigh the name of a football team.

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