Fred Davis wasn’t the only person talking about the Redskins name on Tuesday.
At the usual post-ownership meeting press conference, Commissioner Roger Goodell faced several questions on the topic. And it’s getting harder, not easier, to understand his precise position on the issue.
“I have said since the Super Bowl that, by no means, growing up in Washington, D.C. as a Redskins fan, have I ever considered it derogatory,” Goodell said in response to the question of whether the name should be changed. “That is how Redskins fans look at it. The Redskins have always presented it as part of their tradition and history. ‘Hail to the Redskins’ is part of that tradition. Whenever you have a situation like this you have to listen and recognize that some other people will have different perspectives. Clearly there are cases where that is true here. That is what I have suggested. I have been open about it, that we need to carefully listen and make sure we are doing what is right.”
In other words (possibly), Goodell personally sees no problem with the name. Goodell believes Redskins fans see no problem with the name. But Goodell believes those who see a problem with the name must be heard because maybe they’ll say something that makes Goodell and/or Redskins fans change their minds.
Asked about President Barack Obama’s recent suggestion that owner Daniel Snyder should think about changing the name, Goodell seemed to link his views to Obama’s.
“That is reflective of what I just said, which is that there are different views,” Goodell said. “I do not speak for the President, and would not dare to do so. He is acknowledging that there are different views, and people should listen and people should think clearly about what they do.”
But Obama was far more firm than that. He said Snyder should think about changing the name. If Goodell believes his opinion overlaps with the President’s, then perhaps Goodell believes Snyder should think about changing the name.
“I am confident the Redskins are listening [to outside opinions],” Goodell later added. “I am confident that they are sensitive to their fans and to the views of people that are not their fans. I am very confident they are listening.”
The Redskins may be listening, but perhaps only so they’ll know how to best frame any statements or responses from P.R. specialists and/or outside lawyers. As Peter King reported during Football Night in America, Snyder is more determined than ever to keep the name.
So what’s the point of listening? The positions are obvious. The reasoning is known. At some point, what’s the league and the Redskins listening to? A chorus of “please Dad, please Dad, please Dad”?
It’s possible that the league is listening in order to gauge any changes in the strength of the opposition, and that changes will be made if/when enough voices are joining in the “please Dad” choir to make it in the league’s and the team’s financial interests to do so.
Through it all, the league will hope that Snyder comes to the conclusion on his own. As expected, there was no discussion of the name during Tuesday’s meeting. Eventually, Goodell and a small group of influential owners will approach Snyder, if/when the league concludes that the time has come to do more than listen.