Oneida Nation thanks Art Monk and Darrell Green

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Tuesday morning, Darrell Green and Art Monk offered measured statements about the Redskins name, telling WTOP that a name change should at least be considered. As with many things this time of year, that relatively mild position quickly became national news, landing on a host of national Web sites.

And it led to a statement from the Oneida Indian Nation, the same group that gave $10,000 to a central New York school district to help pay for new uniforms after it changed its nickname from Redskins.

“For those of us in Central New York who have long adored our local Syracuse University legend, Art Monk’s greatness is nothing new — and with his powerful statements about respect for others’ culture, he continues to make this community proud,” Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said in the statement.

“The memory of Mr. Monk’s storied professional football career is inherently tied to the Washington Redskins brand. That means the decision by him and his teammate Darrell Green to publicly speak out against the Redskins bigoted brand is an act of selfless courage — one that says the fight against prejudice is more important than any one individual. As two of the greatest athletes ever to play for Washington’s football franchise, Mr. Monk and Mr. Green have added their truly powerful voices to a grassroots campaign against the mean-spirited mascot-ization of our indigenous culture.”

Now, I’m not sure if Monk and Green really spoke out against “the Redskins bigoted brand.” In fact, I’m pretty sure they didn’t. They just said it should the matter should be open to debate. Regardless, that was clearly seen as a victory by those who want the name changed.

“They have joined a growing movement around what should be a universally accepted idea: that denigrating this country’s indigenous people by promoting ugly stereotypes is unacceptable in the 21st century,” Halbritter further said in the statement. “As the representative of one of those indigenous peoples, I want to thank and commend Mr. Monk and Mr. Green for their leadership just as I did the children of Cooperstown. Together, they are teaching this country a critical lesson about the ideals of mutual respect and inclusion.”

This all also made it into Syracuse Post Standard columnist Bud Poliquin’s text, with the writer saying Monk’s usual reticence needs to be considered.

“While making Harpo Marx sound, more or less, like Joan Rivers, Art would often simply decide not to say anything at all,” Poliquin wrote. “Wrens have made more noise than this fellow who has walked through so much of his life as a silent movie. So, when he did speak earlier this week, when Art Monk did declare that a nickname change should be “seriously considered” down there in Washington, D.C., people listened. And why not? It was like hearing the Sphinx sing.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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