I made that bet without having ever seen this transcript of a 2003 Dan Snyder interview with CNN’s Bob Novak. It was referenced in a Sports on Earth column this week by Patrick Hruby. Somehow, it is entirely new to me.
NOVAK: Mr. Snyder, a lot of the college teams that have had Indian designations — Stanford, Miami of Ohio — they have changed their names. Can you tell me, as an old Redskin fan, that you will never bow to pressure from American Indians and left-wing groups and change the name of the Washington Redskins?
SNYDER: I’ll never change the name of the Redskins. You have my word on that. In addition to that, it’s really what the Redskins mean that’s not quite out there. If you look at the facts, the facts are what it means is tradition. It means winning. It means a great tradition for the franchise. But it also — the whole idea of Redskin really means, it’s war paint. And the Redskin was not a Redskin in a derogatory way, but really Redskin meaning war paint, painted for war, battle. That’s why, if you listen to the fight song of the Washington Redskins, it’s, Hail to the Redskins, fight on for old D.C., braves on the warpath. It’s really a tradition of winning.
NOVAK: So it’s not an attempt to derogate or to insult a minority group at all, is it?
SNYDER: No, not — no, none whatsoever.
NOVAK: Well, I’m glad they’re going to stay the Washington Redskins.
Sure, this was more than a decade ago, but it’s a pretty convincing declaration. Not a lot of wiggle room in “I’ll never change the name of the Redskins.” I can already taste that 2018 lunch. And I now fear that millions of pixels have been generated in vain.
I also had promised many of my critics that I would write about outspoken defenders of the team name, just as I’ve written about outspoken critics. And thus, this editorial that appeared in the New York Post this week:
Washington’s football franchise plainly means no offense. And if a 2004 Annenberg Survey by the University of Pennsylvania is any clue, 90 percent of Native Americans questioned nationwide take no offense. Unfortunately, we have an activist community that exists to find offense. If the Redskins lose here, what’s next — the Jeep Cherokee?
As someone who could hardly stand to live in a world without Jeep Cherokees, I now consider the debate closed. At least for a couple days.