WASHINGTON – The conversation about whether or not “Redskins” is an offensive nickname is growing louder and reaching higher places. I am not impressed.
This is not about whether or not I think the Redskins football team should change its name. I believe the Redskins when they say they do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group. But who is going to stand up and make the final call on whether use of Redskins as a moniker is OK.
I have been covering this story for more than 20 years and not much has changed. OK, hearing a president’s opinion on the team’s name is different. President Barrack Obama weighed in on the issue over the weekend and said that if he owned the Redskins, he would think about a name change.
The president added that team names such as the “Redskins” offend, in his words, “a sizable group of people.” Yet the best he could is say he would think about a name change if he owned the Redskins. I am not attacking the president here, but there is never talk of action, just talk of thinking.
President Obama should know about the Redskins name issue. In 1992, a high school in the president’s home state of Illinois, Naperville Central High School, dropped Redskins as its nickname. The District 203 School Board decided during the summer of 1992 that it would be appropriate to end the use of the term “Redskins.”
So this name change talk is nothing new, but the cul-de-sac of controversy over the NFL Redskins is old. Last month NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talked about listening to concerns.
We have the president thinking and the commissioner thinking about listening. They are two powerful men, but weak when it comes to making a call on whether or not “Redskins” is an offensive nickname.