Loudoun County wades into Redskins name debate, supporting Dan Snyder

November 8, 2013

In recent weeks, all sorts of people, from Minneapolis city council members to congressmen to TV sportscasters, have called for a change to the Washington Redskins’s name.

In Loudoun County, they did just the opposite: The board of supervisors voted unanimously to defend the team’s right to choose its own name.

It’s a business decision, they essentially said, not one for government to dictate.

The name of the region’s professional football team has become increasingly controversial. Some argue that Redskins is an offensive term for Native Americans, one with no place in the NFL. Others say the word just symbolizes a team with a long and storied history in the Washington region — and that the controversy has been whipped up by the media and politicians.

Chairman Scott York brought the issue forward in Loudoun at a meeting Wednesday night. The resolution didn’t touch on whether the name was offensive, but affirmed “their right as an organization to weigh customer input and take action in the best interest of the corporation with regard to their brand.”

“The Redskins are a Loudoun-based business, and this is an extremely business-friendly board,” said supervisor Ralph Buona.

The team’s headquarters and practice facility are in Loudoun County, and many of the coaches and players live in the county, including the face of the franchise, quarterback Robert Griffin III. The county also has a four-year, $2 million contract with the team to help promote Loudoun.

“This was about supporting a local business,” vice-chairman Shawn Williams said, and letting the business make its own decisions.

They weren’t officially weighing in on whether the name is offensive or not — although he and others said informally that they are sure, given the history of the team, that it was never intended to be. They were affirming, Williams said, “that we’re wholeheartedly in support of this organization.”

Earlier this week, the D.C. City Council passed a vote urging the team to change its “racist and derogatory” name.

On Thursday night, hundreds of people protested at the Redskins-Vikings game in Minneapolis, with one telling The Post the name “conveys the murdered scalps of indigenous people — men, women and children.”

Redskins’s spokesman Tony Wyllie did not immediately return a message requesting comment on the vote. The team’s owner, Dan Snyder, has defended the name and its long tradition, saying it was meant to honor Native Americans. He has vowed not to change it.

Susan Svrluga is a Virginia rover for the Washington Post, covering anything and everything that’s happening in the Commonwealth.
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