As the Redskins name issue refuses to leave the news, players are increasingly dipping their toes into this long-running debate.
DeAngelo Hall said the team should “probably” change its name before walking those comments back. London Fletcher said he “started feeling a little bit uneasy” about the name during his final season in Washington. And now former Redskins player Jason Taylor has weighed in during an appearance on NBC’s “SportsDash.”
“Well, the players can only do so much,” Taylor said when asked if Redskins players should get involved. “And they can make a stand and let their opinion be known. I think at this point, they need to take a serious look; [owner Daniel] Snyder needs to take a serious look at changing the name. Look, it’s offensive. If you look it up in the dictionary, it’s an offensive term. And I think if you get one segment of people that are offended by it, it warrants some looking at. So I know he said ‘I’ll never change it and you can make those capital letters, I’ll never change it.’ Well, Donald Sterling thought he’d never lose his franchise, too.”
“I like what London Fletcher said earlier in the week,” former NFL fullback Jon Ritchie then said. “He went to Dan Snyder and said ‘Hey, maybe you should actually go and talk to some of these people who are offended.’ I like that. I like that he took that on himself, that he made that his responsibility.
“I grew up in Central Pennsylvania when the Redskins were good,” Ritchie continued. “They were close; I was a fan. I was a fan of the guys on that team. The name didn’t matter to me, but the guys, like John Riggins, and the Fun Bunch with Art Monk, and Dexter Manley: that’s what mattered. The personalities on the team are what matters. Daniel Snyder should know that. The name does not matter. But the name does matter to some people in our society, because it is a nod to the decimation of a tradition and a culture that was once prevalent here in the United States. If it offends anyone, the name should be out.”
Would an active player ever feel strongly enough about this issue that he’d avoid playing for Washington? It’s kind of hard to imagine. Such a move, though, could shift this debate more than a thousand politicians.
(And yes, people like me are helping the issue remain in the news, even though all I really do is transcribe interviews. I never would have thought to ask Jason Taylor what he thinks about the Redskins name, for example. But if he’s talking about it, I find that kind of interesting.)