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Shutdown Corner

Dan Snyder insists that the Redskins will never change their name

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Dan Snyder doesn't care what you think of his team's name. (Getty Images)

From fans to journalists to politicians -- and certainly many of Native American descent -- the Washington Redskins' team nickname is offensive. That much is clear. Congress weighed in this March, leaving some to wonder if these people didn't have anything better to do, but the controversy rolls along. On May 1, David Grosso, an independent District of Columbia councilman, introduced a bill that would have the Redskins changing a name that Grosso says is "racist and derogatory."

No matter where you stand on the issue, there's only one guy who's going to make the call to change the name, and that's team owner Daniel Snyder. And it should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Snyder's headstrong ways that he's not going to change that name anytime soon.

Check that -- according to USA Today, the Redskins will be the Redskins as long as Snyder owns the team.

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"We will never change the name of the team," he told USA Today's Erik Brady this week. "As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it's all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season.

For those who didn't get it the first time, Snyder reinforced it to Brady.

"We'll never change the name. It's that simple. NEVER — you can use caps."

Well, there you go. While a recent survey conducted by the Associated Press concluded that nearly four out of five people poll didn't think a name change was warranted, others clearly disagree. In March, a three-person panel heard from five Native American representatives who insisted that the Redskins shouldn't have copyright protection for their nickname. Some newspapers, like the Washington City Paper and the Kansas City Star, refuse to use the Redskins nickname when writing about the team.

The omission in Kansas City in particularly interesting, because there's no equivalent issue with the local NFL team being called the Chiefs. But some will tell you that it's the Redskins name that is particularly offensive and egregious.

"There's a derogatory name for every ethnic group in America, and we shouldn't be using those words," Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a Native American, told the AP.

Amanda Blackhorse, a Navajo woman who is the named plaintiff in the trademark suit, told USA Today that she'd like to ask Snyder if he'd call her a Redskin to her face.

"I think the best way is to just not comment on that type of stuff," Snyder told Brady. "I don't know her."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who certainly has the pull to twist Snyder's arm if he's interested in doing so, didn't sound too interested when he was asked about it in February at his Super Bowl press conference.

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"Growing up in Washington, I do understand the affinity for that name with the fans," Goodell said. "I also understand the other side of that. I don't think anybody wants to offend anybody. But this has been discussed over a long period of time. I think Dan Snyder and the organization have made it very clear that they are proud of that name and that heritage, and I think the fans are, too."

That's not true of all fans, and Goodell hasn't seen the last of this issue. That much is clear.

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