The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Redskins lawyer says ‘put it in caps’ language will change

(Carolyn Kaster/AP)
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Redskins lawyer Lanny Davis went on 106.7 The Fan with Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier Wednesday morning — to discuss you know what — and his last answer may have been the most noteworthy. (Listen to the interview here.)

Davis was asked if he thought Dan Snyder’s now famous quote to USA Today — “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps” — was helpful to the team’s cause.

Davis paused.

“I wanted you to note the pregnant pause,” he then said.

“So,” he continued. “Dan Snyder’s been a friend, I’ve helped him in the past. Since I left the White House, I’ve helped him on several matters. So I know Dan Snyder. And when I saw the all caps comment, I thought that that had the wrong flavor to it. And there are parts of Dan Snyder that I find extremely likable. I think he’s a good guy. I wish he would let people know that. But saying all caps isn’t the side of Dan Snyder that I want him to project. I let my opinions be known. And Dan brought me in.

“I don’t always tell him what he wants to hear,” Davis continued. “Sometimes I think that’s why he wants me around, because I get him irritated, by telling him what he doesn’t want to hear. But I’m a friend, and I’m allowed to do that. And so the answer is no, I don’t think saying all caps — never is the right tone. I think saying we care about peoples’ feelings, we’re respectful when anyone is offended, but we have this 80-year name that we love. We sing Hail to the Redskins every Sunday at the stadium, and we say we’re a part of Redskins Nation, that’s our vocabulary, those are terms of honor — that’s what he should have said. But he, I don’t think, is going to say all caps — never again.”

Then Davis was asked if he could next get Snyder to work on FedEx Field’s parking situation.

“I couldn’t agree with you more,” the lawyer quipped. “I think HE couldn’t agree with you more.”

One other sort of interesting exchange happened earlier. Kushner asked Davis whether, as a Jew, he might be inclined to be sympathetic to the cause of an aggrieved minority group.

“I am,” Davis said. “For me, it doesn’t matter what the number is; if you’re offending someone, you should be sorry for that. Especially a religious or ethnic group that’s been persecuted over the years, the way that Native Americans have. Shame on American history, what we did to Native Americans, we being the white man. And Jews have a history of persecution; for goodness sakes, the Holocaust. So I couldn’t agree with you more; we have to be respectful of every injured feeling, and it’s not a quantity.

“But that doesn’t mean a name of the team that’s 80 years old should be changed,” he continued. “We can be open and kind, to soothe people’s feelings, and certainly not diminish it, even if it’s just one. And that’s all Roger Goodell meant by his statement, is that we have to be sensitive and aware that people’s feelings are at risk here, even if it’s offending one person.

“But to change a name and then to have selective outrage, with Congress and tribes and press conferences just mentioning the Redskins, and not mentioning the Tomahawk Chop?” Davis said. “For goodness sakes, I’m a Washington Nationals fan. When I see the Atlanta Braves fans doing that Tomahawk Chop, it irritates the heck out of me, but it’s not because I’m thinking that they intend to be disrespectful to Native Americans. It’s about irritating me as a Washington Nationals fan. So it’s just the selective outrage that I think is unfair. But to get to your point, it’s not a matter of quantity. If people are offended, we should be respectful of that, care about that, and tell people we care about that. But also say, we just have to say to you that this is an 80-year old name, we sing ‘Hail to the Redskins’ to honor the Native Americans, and it’s not a term of disrespect.”