With name vote on tap, Redskins urge fans to contact D.C. Council members

November 4, 2013

Oneida tribal leaders are among those leading a “Change the Mascot” campaign. (Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post)

This post has been updated.

With the D.C. Council poised to call on the team to change its name, Washington Redskins management is asking its fans in the District to contact their lawmakers and share “what #RedskinsPride means.”

The e-mail sent midday Monday is a new acknowledgement from the team of the debate over its name, which has reached a fever pitch in recent months as activists and commentators — including President Obama — have called on the team and the NFL to make a change.

“#RedskinsPride” is a reference to the team’s campaign to beat back critics by framing the name in terms of the team’s heritage rather than as a potentially offensive racial slur. “Our past isn’t just where we came from — it’s who we are.”

Last month, team owner Daniel M. Snyder sent a letter to fans reiterating that he had no plans to change the team’s name, saying “we cannot ignore our 81-year history.”

“That tradition — the song, the cheer — it mattered so much to me as a child, and I know it matters to every other Redskins fan in the D.C. area and across the nation,” he wrote.

The 13-member D.C. Council will vote Tuesday on a resolution calling for a name change as “the right and prudent thing to do.” The name, the legislation says, is considered “to be racist and derogatory, and … increasingly considered to be insensitive in our multi-cultural society.” It has the support of a majority of members and is expected to pass easily.

The Redskins e-mail notes, correctly, that the council has no authority to force a name change. But, the team told fans, “it’s still important for them to hear from you!”

“We wanted to give our fans an opportunity to voice their opinion,” team spokesman Tony Wyllie said Monday.

Karen Sibert, a spokeswoman for Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, said his office had not logged any calls or e-mails on the Redskins name issue as of 1 p.m.

The full e-mail:

Redskins Nation:

On Tuesday, the DC City Council will be discussing the Redskins name. As a resident of DC and a constituent, we encourage you to share with your DC City Councilmembers what #RedskinsPride means to you, your family and friends. Let the DC City Council hear from you directly: call, fax, email, or tweet your opinion directly to the councilmembers. Please forward this to other DC Redskins fans so that they can have their voices heard as well.

Note: while the DC City Council has no authority to force any name change for the team, it’s still important for them to hear from you!

Dan Steinberg contributed to this post.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · November 4, 2013