President Obama: "If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it."
Obama is only the latest to weigh in. Prominent sports journalists have announced they will refrain from using the name. A Native American tribe in New York has launched a national ad campaign. On Monday, it will hold a public conference near the Washington hotel where National Football League owners are meeting. And, in a move that has been described as potentially more significant than any lawsuit or legislation — both of which are also in the works — a group led by a former Federal Communications Commission chairman is working to persuade broadcasters to stop saying the name on the airwaves.
Yet even with opposing voices growing in numbers and power, key constituencies are absent from the name-change bandwagon: many of the nation’s 5.2 million Native Americans, the NFL, advertisers and the football team’s die-hard fans. When candidates at the Virginia gubernatorial debate were asked about the issue at a recent debate, neither took a position on it.
Dan Snyder: “We'll never change the name. It's that simple. NEVER—you can use caps.”
Joe Gibbs: “One of the best things that I saw on that was that Rick Reilly article that came out about two or three weeks ago. I think that says it probably the best. For me, from the time I grew up as a young kid running around the hills of North Carolina, the only football team we could get was the Redskins. So from that time on, everything I’ve known or been a part of has been Redskins. I never, ever thought of it as anything negative; it’s all been a positive. I think that’s what I reflect on: I reflect on the song, the games and everybody being loyal Redskins people.”
Joe Theismann: "If I don’t have control over it, I can’t really worry about it. People besides me will make the decision whether or not the name will or should be changed, or will or won’t be dropped. Like I said, I can only talk about when I played and how much I respected and appreciated the opportunity to represent the nations.”
James "JB" Brown: “Now I understand that it may not be unanimous in terms of how the Native American population feels, but to me, that’s the driving point. If there is an overwhelming feeling that it is derogatory to them, I’m always going to be sensitive."
Michael Wilbon: "You cannot, as Roger Goodell first said a few weeks ago, say it’s essentially a term of endearment, it comes to represent strength and courage. No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t represent any of that. And so I’m disappointed in him for putting that garbage out there, because it doesn’t mean any of those things. It’s not like Braves or Chiefs. It isn’t. It’s a derogatory term. And so you can say ‘Okay, I’m going to leave this up to Dan Snyder. We’re going to work with the team. We’re going to look at this. We’re going to study. We’re going to listen'."
» Dan Snyder: "90% of Native Americans polled did not find the team name offensive"
» The Onion: Washington Redskins Change Their Name to D.C. Redskins
» The Onion: Redskins’ Name Only Offensive If You Think About What It Means