Former Redskins lineman Mark Schlereth: ‘It is time to change the name’


(AP file photo)

Mark Schlereth became the latest former Redskins star to come out against the team’s name over the weekend, telling ABC’s ‘This Week’ that “it is time to change the name.”

“There’s no question, if you research the history of that name, it’s a pejorative term and it needs to change,” said Schlereth, a former Pro Bowler who played in Washington from 1989 to 1994 before moving on to Denver and then to a career in broadcasting. “I mean, you would never go into a conference of Native American people and walk up in front of them and refer to them as Redskins. It is a derogatory term, that’s its origins, and it is time to be a leader, from the standpoint of the NFL. High school across America have changed their names. The NCAA has implemented policy to change those names. Why has the NFL shuffled its feet on this? I don’t know, but it’s time to change.”

While many of you are voraciously weary of this topic and would now like to throw rotten eggplants in my general direction, I think it’s interesting that two of the starters from Washington’s last Super Bowl appearance have now expressed sympathy toward a potential change.

“[If] Native Americans feel like Redskins or the Chiefs or [another] name is offensive to them, then who are we to say to them ‘No, it’s not’?” Art Monk said on WTOP last summer, adding that he thinks a name change should be “seriously considered.”

Both Daniel Snyder and Bruce Allen have cited the team’s alumni in their letters defending the team name, so this strikes me as pertinent.

Of course, Schlereth was hardly the only big name to chime in on this issue in recent days. No sirree. Here are others.

For example, there was Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.), talking to Politico.

“Let’s move on,” Heller said. “If you go back to Nevada and ask them what the most important issues are: It will be jobs, the economy and health care. And nobody will talk about the name of the Washington Redskins.”

Then there was Pete Hegseth, on Fox News’s “Outnumbered” program:

“This is ridiculous,” Hegseth said. “The market has spoken on this. If people didn’t want to attend games, if they want to boycott, they could. There was also a poll on CBS a year ago of Native Americans. Ninety percent of Native Americans across the country don’t find the name Redskins offensive. You can have all the lists you want, you can line ‘em up, they can have their special interests, they can be outraged as all get-out; doesn’t mean they represent the majority of Native Americans. And the Redskins name has not been used offensively. And it’s not used commonly either. It’s a historical name. When’s the last time you heard someone use that as a racial slur? It’s not used commonly at all as a racial slur; it’s used historically to refer as a term of respect, and that’s how we should remember that.”

Actor Jeffrey Wright, a longtime Redskins fan and outspoken defender of the team’s name, chimed in again.

And then there’s Oliver North. The retired Marine, former Senate candidate, author and columnist didn’t comment on the team’s name exactly, but he twice referenced the letters 50 U.S. Senators sent to the NFL about the name during an appearance on Fox News about the VA scandal.

“The Senate, instead of voting on whether the Washington Redskins ought to change their name, should have voted on the House bill to start making personnel changes in the Department of Veterans Affairs,” North said at one point.

“Congress has also failed,” he said later. “The oversight responsibilities of Congress have not been fulfilled in the VA. And they just took a holiday, voted on the Washington Redskins name instead of in the Senate Harry Reid taking up this issue.”

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