Dear Mr. Snyder, Commissioner Goodell, and the other NFL Team Owners,
Hi. How are you? I know things pretty much suck for you guys from a PR perspective these days, what with so many players hitting women and children and fans thinking hitting women and children sucks. You’ve been under fire a lot lately and you’re not handing it with much grace. The Comedy Central decided to pile on and get on your case about the name of the Washington NFL franchise. Well, I’m here to add to Comedy Central’s argument. I’m sure Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones won’t mind me quoting him when I say “Change the fucking name.”
Listen, the name is racist. You can say it’s meant to honor Native Americans. You can say some Natives aren’t upset by it. You can say your intent isn’t to offend but when you get down to brass tacks, you can’t deny that the name is racist. Your only defense at this point is to tell other people to change the way they feel about it. That’s never the right response to upsetting people and you know it. If someone was calling your kid a disgusting idiot, would you tell your kid to get over it and not all disgusting idiots mind being called disgusting idiots? You wouldn’t because there’s nothing redeeming in being called a disgusting idiot. It’s an insult, it’s bad manners to say it to someone else, and anyone being called a disgusting idiot has every right to feel hurt by it.
Which brings me to another issue with the name of your team and kids, specifically my 6 year old son. See, we live in the DC area and my son loves football. Like millions of kids across America, he’s settled on his hometown team as his favorite and he wants to wear their gear, root for them in games, and be part of the fun of football. And, as a football fan myself, I would support all of this 100%…if hearing him say the name of our local team didn’t gross me out.
Would you let a 6 year old say “faggot”? Or “kike”? Or “coon”? Or “spic”? I sure as hell wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t let him say “redskin” either except that the name, the colors, and the logo are all over the damn place from September until February. I just brought home a six pack of soda with the logo on the plastic holder-thingie, for pity’s sake. It’s inescapable.
I’ve had conversations with my son about why the name of your team isn’t nice. He know Native people are people, not stereotypes and that it’s unkind to call them names or use outdated images of them. I even called a summer camp and begged them to stop using a “Cowboys and Indians” soccer drill that included war whoops and explained to my son why that game was wrong. But as much as he understands all of this when we’re talking about it together, he forgets it all when the NFL team scores a touchdown. When he uses the name of the team, he’s hurting real people. I hate that so much. I’m trying to raise kind, thoughtful children and your team name and ridiculous intransigence about changing it are obstacles in my path.
You guys have a chance to stop a cycle of thoughtless racism. You could make a change and end your approval of an outdate stereotype, and the continued oppression of Indigenous peoples by Europeans. Hell, you could make a shitload of money by unveiling news lines of merchandise that fans would snap up as soon as it hits stores. And, most important to me, you could make Sundays more fun at my house by erasing the stain of racism from a child’s enjoyment of a game.
It’s time to change the name.