Dan Snyder Defends Nickname In Letter To Ticket-Holders
The owner responded to the continued discussions over the nickname with a two-page letter that defended it as being part of the team’s tradition and representing four admirable character traits.
BY ZAC BOYER
ASHBURN – Dan Snyder defended the Redskins’ nickname in a letter to season-ticket holders, maintaining that it represents “a symbol of everything we stand for” but also noting that he respects “the opinions of those who disagree.”
Snyder, the Redskins’ owner, has vehemently defended the use of the nickname since he purchased the team in 1999. Earlier this year, he told USA Today he would “never change the name,” though it has continued to remain a topic of conversation.
Last month, commissioner Roger Goodell told 106.7 The Fan that the league would have to listen to concerns about the name if even a single person found it offense, and last week, President Obama said he would “think about changing” the name of the team if he owned it and that it offends “a sizable group of people.”
Members of the Oneida Indian Nation, who planned a protest before the Redskins’ road game against the Packers on Sept. 15, held a press conference on Monday deriding the name as offensive.
Snyder has maintained that the name represents idealistic qualities – “strength, courage, pride and respect,” as he wrote in the letter – and has held on to the team’s 81 years under the nickname, first in Boston and then in Washington, as a reason for maintaining it.
“Our franchise has a great history, tradition and legacy representing our proud alumni and literally tens of millions of loyal fans worldwide,” Snyder wrote in a letter. “We have participated in some of the greatest games in NFL history, and have won five World Championships. We are proud of our team and the passion of our loyal fans. Our fans sing ‘Hail to the Redskins’ in celebration at every Redskins game. They speak proudly of ‘Redskins Nation’ in honor of a sports team they love.
“So when I consider the Washington Redskins name, I think of what it stands for. I think of the Washington Redskins traditions and pride I want to share with my three children, just as my father shared with me – and just as you have shared with your family and friends.”
Snyder also cited the results of two scientific polls – one taken by the Annenberg Public Policy Center in 2004 and one jointly conducted by The Associated Press and GfK – that showed there is support among Native Americans and the nation as a whole for keeping the name.
“I respect the opinions of those who disagree,” Snyder wrote. “I want them to know that I do hear them, and I will continue to listen and learn. But we cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins’ continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.
“We are Redskins Nation … and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage.”
Through a team spokesman, Snyder declined to comment on the letter on Wednesday.
An Oneida Nation spokesman acknowledged Snyder’s letter in a statement, noting that he is “glad to see” the owner “is listening” to critics of the nickname and inviting him to be a part of an NFL delegation that will meet with the tribe.
“In his letter, Mr. Snyder made mention of his team’s history,” spokesman Ray Halbritter said. “He opted to omit from his letter, however, that the original owner who gave the team its current name was an avowed segregationist. That suggests the team’s name was deliberately designed to denigrate people of color. Unfortunately that ploy was successful. The marketing of this racial slur has had – and continues to have – very serious cultural, political, and public health consequences for my people and Native Americans everywhere.”
For the full text of the letter, released by the team as a PDF file, click here.
This report was originally posted on 10/9/13 at 2:10 p.m. and updated on 10/9/13 at 6:20 p.m.