With every passing year, the Washington Redskins attract more controversy from their name. While the NFL audience is divided, those who oppose it are vehement about the need for change. However, as the team looks to move inside the city limits of Washington DC, Dan Snyder may be forced to do what others have called for since before he bought the team?
What is a Redskin?
The Washington Post reports that the first recorded instance of the word “redskin” was uttered by a British lieutenant colonel translating a letter from an indigenous child. From there, redskin and several similar names became a staple for the indigenous population. While the word did not begin as a slur necessarily, it became a common pejorative around 1863.
Many years later, a man named George P. Marshall changed his football team from the Boston Braves to the Boston Redskins. While the title was reportedly an ode to its coach, a self-proclaimed Sioux named William Dietz, his heritage has been called into question. Four years later, the team moved to Washington DC, where it remains, albeit on the outskirts, to this day.
Marshall had his history of questionable racism. He was the last owner to integrate his team in 1961 and only did so under immense pressure. That player, Ernie Davis, was traded 10 days later. During this time, the team began to use offensive stereotypes while marketing the organization. The first instance of public outcry came in 1972 when several Native American leaders met with Marshall to discuss their culture’s appropriation.
Dan Snyder takes over
The Washington Post reports that Dan Snyder took over as the Redskins owner after buying the team in 1999. While the same grumblings and distaste for the name remained for several years, the last decade has seen a resurgence of controversy. Never one to shy away from bad press, Snyder has been as stubborn about the Redskins.
Polls by the Washington Post claimed that only a handful of Native American participants were offended by the name. But those who dissent remain loud and vigilant. To stoke the flames, Snyder hasn’t just ignored the controversy but actively fought against detractors and rubbed it in their faces as he refuses to relent to those offended.
Regardless, the team remains the Redskins. Despite its mixed reaction among fans, it remains a hot topic issue to many people. If recent rumblings are to be believed, however, the controversy may be reignited.
Will the Washington Redskins change its name?
In an interview with The Team 980, Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser spoke about the possibility of the team moving back to Washington DC after spending years on the outside looking in. When asked about the name, Bowser had this to say.
“I think it’s past time for the team to deal with what offends so many people and this is a great franchise with a great history that’s beloved in Washington, and it deserves a name that reflects the affection that we’ve built for the team,” Bowser said (per Yahoo!).
Never one to shy away from big statements, Bowser recently made news by changing the road outside the White House to Black Lives Matter Plaza as a way to get President Donald Trump and his allies to take a growing movement seriously. If the team truly wants to move and provides incentives to do so, this could finally make the controversial name go away.
However, as many have noted in the past, Snyder is known as much for his stubbornness as he is his money, and if Bowser tries to force a name change, the whole thing could go up in smoke.