Roger Goodell finally gave us his two cents on the Redskins' name issue, and in doing so, defended owner Daniel Snyder's position of keeping the team's name as is. Here's a portion of the explanation; the full letter to congress can be found here.
"As you may know the team began as the Boston Braves in 1932, a name that honored the courage and heritage of Native Americans. The following year, the name was changed to the Redskins — in part to avoid confusion with the Boston baseball team of the same name, but also to honor the team’s then-head coach, William ‘Lone Star’ Dietz. Neither in intent nor use was the name ever meant to denigrate Native Americans or offend any group."
Using Goodell's logic, as long as a racial slur is meant in a positive manner, it's a uniting force that shouldn't offend a particular group.
That just doesn't make any sense.
In a perfect world, racial slurs wouldn't exist, and the issue would be a non-issue altogether, but the fact of the matter is that we don't live in such a world. It's nothing short of shocking that the NFL's top man would defend the Redskins' name in such a candid way.
Ultimately, this isn't an issue that will go away. Every season, when football starts, it'll be put on the back burner, but it will be back. My gut tells me that the name will be changed eventually, but when that happens is anyone's guess. For now, the NFL will continue to defend Snyder and the team's heritage, but the issue has garnered more and more public debate in recent years, and public opinion will eventually push hard enough that the name will need to be changed.
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