The Washington NFL team has said plenty about the ruling stripping its team of trademark protection. The NFL has said nothing.
And the NFL apparently will be saying nothing.
“The Redskins issued a statement from their attorney,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said via email.
Yes, they did. But only a couple weeks after NFL V.P. of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch declared that the team name is not a slur, the appropriate arm of the federal government has found that it is. Some would say that something more than silence would be the reasonable response.
Then again, what can the NFL do? Launch a game of ‘fraid-not/’fraid-so? A no-gray-area debate has emerged in recent months regarding the name. Even though today’s ruling fuels the side pushing against it, it won’t change the minds of those who support it.
Still, the predictable content of the statement from the team’s lawyer predicting eventual victory in a court of law overlooks the possibility that, before the appeal is resolve, the battle may be long since lost in the court of public opinion. Despite the identical nature of today’s outcome to the ultimately-reversed decision from 1999, those opposing the name have gained a viable piece of ammunition for the ongoing effort to make the movement become larger, more organized, and more effective.
If sponsors decide to get involved, it may even provide the proverbial tipping point, sparking the chain of events that would result in the NFL finding a way to persuade owner Daniel Snyder to tippy-toe out of the corner into which his past statements have painted him.
If, after all, Clippers owner Donald Sterling should lose his franchise over racist views shared in private, shouldn’t some sort of action be taken now that a federal agency with jurisdiction has determined that a term used in a very public way creates disparagement on racial grounds?