NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith recently stated he thinks the term Redskins is a name that reflects racial insensitivity. Smith has joined others in publicly denouncing the name Redskins and calling for the Washington football team to change its name because it’s considered by some to be a racial slur. Smith said:
“I have conveyed my thoughts on this issue both to Roger and to the team. They understand our position and I believe that those conversations are most effective when they can remain private. As I have stated publicly, though, I do not believe anyone should inflict pain, embarrass or insult, especially given the racial insensitivity of the term ‘Redskin.’ As you know, I grew up here and like all Washingtonians I became a fan of this team. The beauty of sports and of the Washington football franchise is that it will always have the ability to bring this community together, regardless of what decision is made about the team name.”
And while I don’t dispute that some may indeed use the term Redskin as a racial slur, I will continue to state the opinion that the Washington Redskins are not using the term as a racial slur. Again, I ask the question, why would the Redskins organization call their team a name it wasn’t proud of?
This is a team that seeks to make a profit by selling merchandise with the name “Redskins” emblazoned on it. It wouldn’t make much sense to sell merchandise that you knew was definitely offensive to people. And yet thousands of fans don’t seem to care, as the Redskins merchandise sales have ranked in the top ten of the league the past few seasons.
The popularity of quarterback Robert Griffin III might have a lot to do with that, but still the name Redskins isn’t stopping people from buying his jersey. So even though I think Redskins owner Dan Snyder should still change the name because this fight is a constant distraction to the team. I don’t think the Redskins are trying to offend anyone in the use of the name.