NFL teams saluting honorable citizens and groups is nothing new, and it's typically seen as a noble gesture. Somehow, this feels different to a lot of people.
In the first half of Monday's Washington Redskins loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Redskins honored four members of the Navajo Code Talkers Association as a joint nod to both the NFL’s Salute to Service month and Native American Heritage month.
The Code Talkers were a group that helped save thousands of Americans during World War II with their secret communication skills. They are heroes who should be honored, without a doubt.
But the conflict arises when you consider the team doing the honoring. The Redskins always have had a connection to Native Americans, for good or bad, considering their controversial nickname. The topic of whether "Redskins" is offensive — and thus should be changed — has become a hot-button issue of late.
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder up to this point flatly has said that he refuses to change the name, citing several Native American groups that do not have a problem with the name and do not find it offensive. On the flip side, there are other groups, some of them quite vociferous, who are calling for a name change.
The four members of the Code Talkers were emblazoned with Redskins gear and their military hats and were greeted and respected with a warm reception from the otherwise despondent Redskins crowd, as well they should have.
But here's the debate, one that raged on social media while the tribute was happening, and beyond: Did the Redskins honor these men with earnest intentions? Or were they merely putting forth these veterans as trophies and signs that they are respectful of Native Americans' cries?
Should the Redskins have not honored these men and their exceptional history? We're venturing into catch-22 territory in this issue, it appears.
It's a complex issue, and one that's not easily solved. What's your take?
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