Three months after forcefully defending the use of the nickname “Redskins” for Washington’s NFL team, commissioner Roger Goodell has opened the door to reconsidering whether the name should be used.
In a radio interview on Washington station WJFK-FM this past week, Goodell acknowledged the growing outcry of people who consider the term a slur against Native Americans.
“We need to do everything that’s necessary to make sure that we’re representing the franchise in a positive way,” said Goodell, who has softened his stance after writing a strongly worded letter to Congress defending the nickname.
“If we are offending one person,” said Goodell, “we need to be listening and making sure that we’re doing the right things to try to address that.”
The fact is the name offends more than one person. It offends an untold number of people who deplore the racist connotation of the nickname, to the point that even Goodell is beginning to change his mind on the issue.
It is a meaningful turnaround, perhaps signifying a momentum shift that ultimately will sway team owner Daniel Snyder to come off his unyielding stance about keeping the name.
Just a few months ago, in a letter to Congress responding to a call from legislators to force the team to drop its current nickname, here’s what Goodell said: “The Washington Redskins name has thus from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context. For the team’s millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America’s most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”
But after hearing a growing number of protests from Native American groups and others who are simply offended by the negative connotation of the nickname, Goodell clearly is rethinking his position, and further prying open the door for others to continue pushing for a change. It ultimately could force Snyder to acquiesce to the calls for change. And it’s time for him to make that change.