Roger Goodell on the Redskins name

September 11, 2013
By Nam Y. Huh/The Associated Press.
(Nam Y. Huh/The Associated Press)

For at least the third time in eight months, Roger Goodell confronted the issue of the Redskins name on Wednesday. But his answer — this time delivered during a lengthy interview with LaVar Arrington and Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan — took a more nuanced tone.

About midway through their interview, Dukes brought up the name issue, which has attracted newfound attention since the Redskins’ playoff appearance in January. Dukes brought up owner Dan Snyder’s recent proclamation that he would never change the name.

“Is that his decision to make alone, or do you ever foresee a situation where the league may have any influence in an issue of that magnitude?” Dukes asked.

“Well, as you guys know, I grew up in Washington,” said Goodell, who lived in Northwest D.C. until he was about 10. (You can listen to his response here.) “The Colts were my team early on, and then I became a Redskins fan,” he continued. “So I know the team name is part of their history and tradition, and that’s something that’s important to the Redskins fans. And I think what we have to do though is we have to listen. If one person’s offended, we have to listen. And ultimately, it is Dan’s decision. But it is something that I want all of us to go out and make sure we’re listening to our fans, listening to people who have a different view, and making sure that we continue to do what’s right to make sure that team represents the strong tradition that it has for so many years.”

Arrington then followed up, mentioning Peter King’s recent decision to stop using the name, and again questioning whether there was any scenario in which the league might step in.

“Well, you know, we’re always sensitive to what impacts the league in general, and that includes our 32 teams, and making sure that we’re doing what’s right here,” Goodell said. “And that’s why I think, again, we have to do everything that’s necessary to make sure that we’re representing the franchise in a positive way, and that rich history and tradition. And that if we are offending one person, we need to be listening and making sure that we’re doing the right things to try to address that.”

Redskins GM Bruce Allen also addressed the topic last week, during his annual season-preview appearance on WTOP.

“We’re so proud of our history and everything that the Redskins have represented on and off the field,” he said. “We’re going to focus in on our games.”

The commissioner was less expansive when Mike Wise asked him about the issue at the Super Bowl, saying then that “I think Dan Snyder and the organization have made it very clear that they’re proud of that heritage and that name and I believe fans are, too.”

When 10 members of the Congressional Native American Caucus later sent a letter to Snyder and Goodell urging a name change, the commissioner responded that “For the team’s millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America’s most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”

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