What the NFL needs right now more than anything is something so mind-blowing that it changes the relentless and deserved negative narrative about the league and its haphazard handling of players embroiled in personal and legal troubles. All that’s required is for Dan Snyder to change the name of his football team, the Washington “Redskins.”
Snyder has been adamant about not changing the offensive name. Last year, he told USA Today, “We will never change the name of the team.” When ESPN asked him this month why not, he gave a laughable answer. “The name of our team is the name of our team,” Snyder said. “It represents honor. It represents pride. It represents respect.” No, it doesn’t. The team’s name is a slur against Native Americans.
That’s why my colleagues on The Post editorial board and I wrote last month, “[W]hile we wait for the National Football League to catch up with thoughtful opinion and common decency, we have decided that, except when it is essential for clarity or effect, we will no longer use the slur ourselves.” That’s why Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) is seeking to strip the NFL of its tax-exempt status. “This is not about team tradition,” she said at a news conference Tuesday. “This is about right and wrong.” And that’s why Ray Halbritter of the Oneida Indian Nation was able to slam the football league as “showing commercial and moral arrogance, and a blatant lack of respect for those being negatively impacted.”
With one decision, Snyder could reverse some of the commercial and moral arrogance the NFL has placed on ample display. No doubt, it would be a highly cynical move. The name change would be big news that would bump off the front pages, for a few days at least, the domestic violence and child abuse charges facing Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Jonathan Dwyer and Greg Hardy. But the long-term impact would benefit the Washington team and the league — both their respective bottom lines and their reputations.
An interesting ESPN video last month on what a name change would cost Snyder provided vital information that ought to appeal to him. Ronald Goodstein, a professor of marketing at Georgetown University, said that it would cost between $15 million and $20 million to do everything a name change would entail. “You’re asking him to give up 10 to 20 percent of his value in the firm just to do that.” But according to Forbes Media executive editor Mike Ozanian, a name change holds nothing but promise for the Washington team. “I think the amount of revenue, in terms of selling merchandise, team license products and additional sponsorships, would far exceed those costs,” he said. “The name change could add $10 to $15 million per year in revenue.” Ozanian estimates the team rakes in about $400 million annually and he values Snyder’s team at $1.7 billion, making it the NFL’s third-most valuable.
You’d think the owners of a business, collectively valued at $10 billion and pushing to grow to $25 billion by 2027, that is drowning in bad news and awful public relations would jump at the chance to change the subject while also doing the right thing. Yes, that’s awfully cynical. But we’re talking about the NFL. Still, this might be too much to ask. As New York Times sports columnist Bill Rhoden so aptly put it Thursday, the league’s leadership seems to be “drawing up plays in the dirt.”
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