League contends Washington name “not a slur”

Commissioner Roger Goodell has periodically tiptoed around the question of whether the Washington franchise owned by Daniel Snyder should change its name, never conceding there’s a serious problem with the name but never providing a definitive statement that the name is acceptable.

One of Goodell’s lieutenants provided something definitive on Friday.

The team name is not a slur,” NFL V.P. of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch said in a phone appearance on ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

“The team name is the team name as it has been for 80-plus years,” Birch said. “And what we need to do is get beyond sort of understanding this as a point-blank situation and understand it more as a variety of perspectives that all need to be addressed, that all need to be given some weight, so that at the end of it we can come to some understanding that is appropriate and reflects the opinions of all.”

That sounds good, but it’s impossible to reflect the opinions of those who think it’s a slur while also keeping the name.  There’s no middle ground.  Those who believe it’s a slur want it to change.  Those who don’t believe it’s a slur want to keep it.  And the ongoing controversy is causing the ranks of the undecideds to shrink.

“I think that is part of the issue with the question is that it is constantly being sort of put into a point-blank, yes-or-no, yes-or-no kind of context when that’s not the reality of the situation that we’re dealing with,” Birch said.

He’s right, but only because the NFL and the team have decided to ignore those who say “yes” to the slur question.  In fairness, the league and the team aren’t completely ignoring those folks.  The league and the team will listen.  And understand.  And respect the opinions and perspectives.

And then keep the name.

The issue will continue to be a “point-blank, yes-or-no, yes-or-no kind of context” until the league and the team say “yes” to a name change.  Through the remarks Goodell has made over the past two years, the NFL necessarily has acknowledged that reasonable minds can differ on the question of whether the name is a slur.  The question for the league is whether it’s comfortable having a team carry a name that has become the focal point of a reasonable dispute as to whether that name is a slur.

Birch’s comments suggest that the answer is yes, but that the league would be far more comfortable if everyone would please quit treating the “point-blank, yes-or-no” question of whether the name is a slur like the “point-blank, yes-or-no” question it inherently is.

And so the league will continue taking the position that it’s not an intentional slur and the team will continue to stubbornly try to convince people that it’s not an unintentional slur, either.  And it all will continue until something breaks the logjam.

69 responses to “League contends Washington name “not a slur”

  1. Why has this only become a recent issue and not 60-70 yrs ago? Oh yeah, its the money.

  2. it would show some chops for the NFL to change it. An unwillingness to step in and do so, in the face of the fact that it clearly offends large swaths of the people Snyder alleges that it ‘honors’ tells you the NFL’s obligation to ‘do the right thing’ ends when it will effect the bottom line in any way.

    Of no, we might go from an 8 billion dollar league to a 7.95 billion dollar league one year because Washington fans would be annoyed about the name change!

    So much for ‘protecting the shield’, Goodell.

  3. Keep your mouth shut Washington and lose your twitter feed and this will go away! Just SHUT UP!

  4. The team doesn’t have to convince the majority of people that isn’t a slur. We already have thought it over and have decided it isn’t. Why should the team bow to the will of a small minority?

  5. The only people I hear screaming for the name to be changed are white people on capital hill that are only after this issue because of the way it makes them look in front of their voters. It’s like congress and steroids in MLB, sticking their noses where it doesn’t belong

  6. How about polling the Arizona High School on the Indian Reservation whose nickname is the “REDSKINS.” Why aren’t they offended?

  7. Making a media sensation out of this story is not the way to get Snyder to change it. He sees himself as too tough to be pushed around. The way to do this is stop talking publicly about it and get someone he trusts to have a little quiet talk with Snyder. Make it seem like his idea to change it. Give him the credit for doing it. It will happen almost overnight that way. This way — all the screaming, the petitions, the letters, etc., it will never happen.

  8. I’m a Native American from Minnesota, Vikings fan, and I’ve always liked the redskins because I felt as if they were representing my heritage in a way not offensive to me. Peoples politically correctness has reached foolish levels. Persons who name sports teams do so with the intent that such a name will command respect and show pride for their team (sometimes the quality of gameplay tarnishes the name). If someone calls me a redskin I stand up straight with pride for my race and if someone calls me a packer, they’re going to find out just how much that offends me. I’m just a football fan who can’t wait for the games to start!!

  9. The whole Redskins controversy began with people who ply their trade in the grievance industry. 30+ years of ever increasing political correctness has caused this sort of thing to grow into a cottage industry. The call for change has now grown to a fever pitch because of jelly fish spined people such as Bob Costas, Peter King, and the 50 US Senators who called for the name to be changed. The best description I have for this sort of thing is benign fascism.

  10. Once again, the only that matters if people really want the Redskins to change is money. A bunch of senators saying they don’t like it is meaningless; the government has no power to force the team to change its name. Protestors likewise have no power.

    What is meaningful to the NFL: the team is perennially in the top 5 in team merchandise sales. Until the NFL feels this team’s name is hurting the bottom line, there will be zero real pressure to change it from the other owners. If people want the name to change, then don’t buy Washington team merchandise, don’t go to their games, don’t watch them on TV.

  11. I hate this debate. It feels like someone stirred up a controversy for the sake of it.

    With that said, end it.

    Rename them the Washington Warriors.

    Keep the logo.

    done

  12. The name of the “Washington franchise” is the Redskins. If you are going to report on that franchise, use the name. Otherwise don’t bother posting about them.

  13. The team and the NFL are ignoring culture. Culture is the changing of society’s ideas, customs, and norms over time. No one person, team, or organization defines culture; everyone in the society defines it. It is constantly evolving; it never stays constant (does music today sound the same as it did ten years ago? 20 years ago?).

    It is silly of the team to tell me what ‘Redskin’ means. Society and culture selects the meaning.

    Defending old school ideas against a changing culture is like trying to stop a tsunami; it cannot be done and it’s going to wash over you.

    The tsunami is rising. It’s best to get out of the way.

  14. Goddell is such a coward, not only does he not have the cahones to change the name, he sends someone else to tell the public he won’t change it.

  15. You can bet that if sterling was caught on tape telling his gold digger not to invite redskins to his games that he’d be in boatloads of trouble. Why? The name is a racial slur plain and simple. There’s no reasonable argument that the name is not a slur. Supporters are only stubborn and averse to change. Plain and simple.

  16. “The league and the team will listen. And understand. And respect the opinions and perspectives.

    And then keep the name.”

    Maybe one day those who oppose the name will come to realize that, just because others disagree with their position, it doesn’t automatically make those persons wrong. Reasonable minds can differ on a topic. It doesn’t make anyone automatically incorrect. This is particularly true when there is legitimate, empirical data to support an adverse opinion.

    At least the league doesn’t categorically dismiss the opinions of those who believe the name should be changed. The league is just agreeing to disagree. Happens all the time in civilized society. And is one of the main purposes of the 1st Amendment.

    The opponents of the name, on the other hand, simply can’t tolerate those who–God forbid–don’t agree with them. The opponents choose not to, or realize they can’t, debate the subject on the merits. Rather, they simply declare they are correct without any rational discourse as to why the facts and data being relied upon by those in support of the name have no merit.

    It’s impossible not to pay attention to the man behind the curtain when he’s standing right in front of you. Until the opponents acknowledge his presence, their position will continue to rest on nothing more than a house of cards.

  17. Another huge story, not.
    Redskins-Redskins-Redskins-Redskins-Redskins

    You forgot to print the team name again, Florio.
    Don’t worry, I’m here to help you out.

    REDSKINS
    (and I don’t even like them)

  18. Message to all the MSNBC/Huffpo/Upworthy crowd posting so adamantly about a name change. Ask yourselves “where was I 5 years ago on the name?” The answer is nowhere. You only started believing it when the media told you to.

  19. I agree with most of the Washington fans that this is a media invented issue. I also agree that Native Americans may be offended by the name. I 100% believe that not one single fan has ever viewed Redskins as a racist term nor used it as a racist term until recently. Unfortunately, once the PC crowd gets their teeth into an issue, such as this, there’s no going back. They won’t stop now. I know none of you diehard fans want to change the name. It’s an identity. The Redskins are definitely one of the flagships of the NFL. You’re proud of your team. But you can’t win this fight. You know you can’t win it. You will eventually have to change the name. I think it sucks and it makes me a little sad that our society has come to this. I’d go with Warriors if I was you. We’re a country at war so there are so many ways to go with it. If Native Americans don’t want to be honored by Washington, then let’s bestow that honor on our own soldiers who put their lives on the line for us everyday. And let those who jumped on the PC bandwagon fade back into obscurity (I’m talking to you Native American leaders.)

  20. Plain and simple, a slur. The PC police will change the name just like they made Michael Sam into a cult hero and Donald Sterling into the reincarnation of Hitler.
    That’s the way they want it and that’s the way it will be. They have the mainstream media behind them so they’ll be able to get anything they want done. Like electing a President.

  21. Shame on Godell for trotting out Mr. Birch to answer questions that only he (Godell himself) should have to answer. It’s his job, but very unfair for Burch to give the company line, when the company line is so indefensible.

    The NFL should speak with one coherent voice about this subject and using Burch only serves to “muddy the water”, as the the official NFL position. It’s very transparent that Mr. Burch is being used by the NFL because of his race and for the purpose to confuse or should I say obfuscate?

    Why Mr. Burch? It’s the same tactic used by GOP politics when they get a black republican to criticize Mr. Obama to shield them from bigotry claims. RESULT: Obama victory-twice.Name change is inevitable.

  22. Shame on Goddell for trotting out Mr. Birch to answer questions that only he (Goddell himself) should have to answer. It’s his job, but very unfair for Burch to give the company line, when the company line is so indefensible.

    The NFL should speak with one coherent voice about this subject and using Burch only serves to “muddy the water”, as the the official NFL position. It’s very transparent that Mr. Burch is being used by the NFL because of his race and for the purpose to confuse or should I say obfuscate?

    Why Mr. Burch? It’s the same tactic used by GOP politics when they get a black republican to criticize Mr. Obama to shield them from bigotry claims. RESULT: Obama victory-twice.Name change is inevitable.

  23. We are a nation filled with the offended.
    We’ve taken political correctness to ludicrous levels.
    Where do you draw the line?

    I suspect we passed it, long ago. This is a non-issue.

    When was the last time you heard ANYONE use the term “Redskin” OTHER than referring to a team name? It isn’t offensive unless someone uses it in a context that is meant to offend someone.

    Hike up your frilly pants and move on to the next issue that ninnies are offended by, eh? This one has run its course.

  24. It was acceptable for a 100 years to have separate water fountains to. Times change.

  25. I am an American Indian.
    Words have as much power as people give to the words.
    Some can use slurs and put the power of care behind the words.
    Others cannot hope to hide their hatred.
    Until the power of the word is removed, it is best avoided in popular use.
    Change the name, people use that term to spread hate and bigotry.
    Not the majority, but it is still a slur.

  26. What should we do? Send out the Black guy to answer questions about race.

    Next time send him out in full headdress.

    99% of us on here can’t answer the question if it is a slur or not.

  27. Not saying it is a slur, not saying it isn’t.

    I do, however, find it interesting that those defending the term don’t use it very much, either in relation to the team (instead by using such phrases as “the team” or “the organization”), or in relation to the people who they claim see the term as a positive & honorable label.

    What do you suppose would happen if Dan Snyder, Bruce Allen, or another representative of the team used a phrase such as “All the redskins I talk to …” or “We hear from plenty of redskinned people …” I think that their own avoidance of the phrase in relation to anything other than the team shows that they know what it really is.

  28. It isn’t for the league, team or senators to determine if the name “Redskins” is a slur. It’s up to those who are actually affected by it to determine that. Who are we to say it isn’t offensive? How do we know? Because we don’t want it to be so we don’t have to deal with it? It will eventually be changed. How long you think it would take a team named the “Blackskins” to change their name. Just because there isn’t a large enough outrage does not mean it isn’t offensive.

  29. I bet Snyder and the nfl would agree on a name change once sponsors start dropping.
    I do like the idea of the Washington warriors. Even tho a local middle school here in central Florida was once the Tuskawilla Warriors (middle school) til they changed it due to “warriors” being a native reference and promotes violence lol

  30. The thing I find more offensive than the name, is that stereotype Indian head on the side of their helmets. Keep the name, but go back to the helmet art they had in the 60s (the arrow and feather–which looks way cooler anyway) and keep the name. Problem solved.

  31. This one is really relatively simple…

    On technicality…is the name a slur…yes probably, and the reason I think so is because if the team’s name was the Washington Blackskins, or the Washington Whiteskins, that would certainly be causing much more of an issue.

    Does the team intend it as a slur….1000% NO!…In fact, I think professional teams that names their franchises the Braves, Chiefs, Indians, even Redskins, are actually “honoring” Native Americans. I am completely convinced of that.

    Why is it a problem now? Because our society is full of “I am offended” people, and that all started I believe when the Government started removing religion from the public sector to satisfy the 8-15% of people who didn’t want it.

    I feel the Government was and is wrong for doing that, and based on that, part of me doesn’t want to also see the Skins cave and change their name of the reported 10-15% of people who have an issue with the name.

    We had something similar here in Dallas, TX where I live a few years ago. We have a suburb called “White Settlement”…I absolutely think that name is in obvious bad taste, but they refused to change it I believe.

    Overall, I don’t care what happens to the name, but I believe the team’s intent from the beginning was to honor Native Americans, not slur them.

  32. If you can find one…call a Native “Redskin” to his face. If they don’t take offence to it, you’re good to go.

  33. Oh, Please.

    This is almost exactly that same type of lame ‘rationalization’ I heard in the 50’s and 60’s about the N word. In fact, the N word has been in ‘popular’ use for almost 200 years, maybe longer.

    Whats next? Is Goodell going to trot out some subordinate to make the claim, “How can ‘Redskin’ be derogatory, after all, lots of Indians call each other ‘Redskin’?

    Are some of Goodell’s and Snyder’s best friends – Redskins?

    This has passed the point of ludicrous, it has reached into the land of bizarrely stupid.

  34. To add to that, Goddell is now in full disagreement with the dictionary, which says, point blank, that the term ‘Redskins’ is derogatory, racist, and demeaning. I don’t particularly care if a team has had the name for 60, 100, or 500 years, that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t matter what Snyder thinks it means or what it means to him, that is the very definition of racism, to have the absolute arrogance to deem that what YOU think something means, makes it mean the same thing to the ethnic group referred to in the word, and, because it doesn’t offend YOU, that makes it okay to use it.

  35. So I called these dudes redskins and they started slapping me upside the head and I said “no no, the NFL said it’s not a slur” and they stopped. Whew. That was close.

  36. All the media types that are outraged by the use of the name Redskins should simply stop using it on their websites. Until they do, they are a bunch of hypocrites.

  37. Common sense will tell you that teams and businesses do not name their teams or products to evoke weakness but to instill and inspire pride. The liberals are the ones making a mockery and debasing these names, and for what? To further divide this country and act as redeemers. They put you down and raise you up, only the use the whites as battering tool.— the American fighter pilots in France in ww1 painted their airplanes with the Native American to show that they are Americans. That’s pride, not scorn.

  38. 12brichandfamous says:
    May 31, 2014 10:30 AM
    The team and the NFL are ignoring culture. Culture is the changing of society’s ideas, customs, and norms over time. No one person, team, or organization defines culture; everyone in the society defines it………

    —————————————————-

    yes and 83% of the society is for the name. isn’t that enough?

  39. If someone wants to change the name just buy the team from Dan Snyder so you can change the name if it upsets them so much. They can sell it back to Dan with the condition he can’t change the name back to the Redskins. That should make the PC crowd happy.

  40. How many times since 1933 has the word Redskins been said when no one thought twice about it? How many times has the N word been used since 1933 when people know it is wrong. Lets compare apples to apples. People talking about changing the name are the same ones that are using it in the sentence when they talk about it. It is the stupidest topic that has come along ever. Redskins, Redskins, Redskins Redskins. Anyone out there offended now that I said it 5 times here? Give me a break!

  41. If there’s even a question, then no it’s not a slur. Slurs are cut and dry. This is not cut and dry, therefore not a slur.

    What this is is the general logical and fair public fighting the never ending fight started by The Misinformed.

    The Misinformed of our society do not possess an ability to admit mistake on their part because The Misinformed act impulsively.

    And when that impulse meets ego, admission of mistake is not accepted in the minds of The Misinformed.

    These are who divide us due to their carrying on of fights that they start that had to factual merit in the first place.

  42. If there’s even a question, then no it’s not a slur. Slurs are cut and dry. This is not cut and dry, therefore not a slur.

    What this is is the general logical and fair public fighting the never ending fight started by The Misinformed.

    The Misinformed of our society do not possess an ability to admit mistake on their part because The Misinformed act impulsively.

    And when that impulse meets ego, admission of mistake is not accepted in the minds of The Misinformed.

    These are who divide us due to their carrying on of fights that they start that had to factual merit in the first place.

  43. The name was not considered a slur when they took it. The ones who made it a slur are racists, and you people want to give those racists power by allowing them to destroy a word.

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