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ExtremeRavens: The Sanctuary

Redskins is a Dehumanizing Slur


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Snyder doesn't get it. Goodell and the NFL Owners don't get it.



In order to understand just how disgusting it is that the NFL team in Washington, D.C., is still called the "Redskins," you need to know the franchise's history.

You need to understand that George Preston Marshall, the man who bought the rights to an NFL franchise with three partners and started the Boston Braves in 1932, was an avowed segregationist. You have to understand the franchise was renamed in "honor" of a man raised by white parents who adopted a Native American persona (scholars say he was impersonating a Sioux man). And when the team relocated to D.C. five years after it was founded, the city was controlled by Southern white politicians, and its most powerful resident, Franklin D. Roosevelt, invited only the white Olympians who competed in 1936 to visit him at the White House.


"Hitler didn't snub me -- it was [FDR] who snubbed me," said Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals. "The president didn't even send me a telegram."


So before anyone dismisses the outcry to rename the football team as another example of political correctness gone wild, they must remember the first NFL team to reintegrate was the L.A. Rams in 1946 and the last was Marshall's "Redskins" in 1962.


But to fully appreciate just how revolting it is that the team still bears that name, you must know that Marshall didn't finally sign a black player because he was no longer a racist.


The NFL had signed a big TV deal the year before, and then-commissioner Pete Rozelle was encouraged by the other owners to talk to Marshall; no doubt they were afraid his bigotry would tarnish the image of the league. The federal government was also involved, as the team's new football stadium was built on federally controlled land. So the Kennedy administration required Marshall to abide by federal law.

This is the history of the franchise that has clung to the name "Washington Redskins."

So when commissioner Roger Goodell said, "I think Dan Snyder and the organization have made it very clear that they are proud of that name and that heritage," I hope he remembers this: Marshall, along with the nation's attitude at the time the name was chosen, is that heritage.


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Living out here in Arizona with many native Americans around, you can't help but to notice things. First of all they have no issue wearing Redskins gear. Maybe it's just the Yavapai Apache tribe I live by, but I see a lot of Washington gear around worn by native Americans. Doesn't really seem to be an issue with them.

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