The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Chris Cooley ridicules name-change effort, says he’s now protesting the Chargers

(AFP/Getty file photo)

If Redskins fans who love the team’s name were looking for sympathetic local radio voices on Wednesday, they found some on ESPN 980’s The Drive With Cooley and Czabe. Former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley, longtime local host Steve Czaban and third man Al Galdi spent the opening segment of their three-hour show making fun of white sportswriters who have championed the name change cause and arguing that the team name is secure.

ESPN 980 is part of Dan Snyder’s Red Zebra Broadcasting operation.

You can listen to it here. Highlights:

On the Chargers

Czaban: Remember, the guilt-ridden white liberal sportswriters…

Cooley: That want to take a stand. It’s a stance.

Czaban: It’s a cause. They need a cause to feel good about themselves. They will then say it doesn’t matter if it’s 70, 80 percent — if one person is offended, then that’s enough.

Cooley: You know what, Steve? We need a cause. You and I need a cause. And you know what that cause is going to be? I don’t like the Chargers because I want to protect the ozone, all right guys? I feel like there’s a global warming issue, and I don’t like the name Chargers, because they’re promoting electricity. Eff electricity, and eff the Chargers name. I have a problem with them. All I’ve got to do is a pamphlet and 10 percent of a couple people and maybe a Senator or two that wants to protect the ozone and we’re off and running.

Galdi: Call Olbermann. Call Deadspin.

Cooley: I don’t want just money; I want power too. I want to create power with this. I want to create a name for myself out of this. This is for me

On what would happen if the Redskins win on appeal

Cooley: Here’s what it will do: It will create an end to the Redskins publicly saying anything about keeping the name. They’ll let anyone else say whatever they want about it. They’ll let the Oneida tribe say anything, they’ll let anyone that wants to bash the name say anything. But as soon as our court system rules — which is, in my opinion, likely… — it ends what we have to say to them. Now all we do is go out to these reservations and we believe in what we do and create goodwill and continue to work with our Native Americans in building their tribes back up to what they want to be, and we don’t say anything.

On the alternatives

Czaban: The only good counter argument is to say as soon as the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Indians and the Florida State Seminoles all want to do this then we’d certainly listen to them if they want us to join their movement to change their names….[Otherwise] say we’ll be the Washington Chiefs and paint a more racist picture on the side of the helmets, a buck-toothed Native American that says Chiefs. It won’t say Redskins, but it’ll be a really ugly Native American. It will not be a proud, dignified Native American. It’ll be very cartoonish, like Chief Wahoo, with a big buck-toothed smile.

Cooley: Chiefs and spell it wrong. Put the [e before the i]…..No, I think if, God forbid, they were forced to change the name, they should just change it to the Smurfs. Something just out there. And then make the Smurf a little Indian Smurf, a red Smurf.

On liberal sports media members

Czaban: [They’re] going to dance around like in the final scene of Star Wars, like they just defeated the evil empire. Go ahead dance around and do whatever it does that assuages your white liberal guilt but nothing has changed, nothing will change. This is the biggest nothingburger story ever….Maybe we can get therapy for [them], chip in, get to the core of their guilt and understand what is it that’s nagging you.

Cooley: Well because they all understand how it feels. They all know what it means.

Czaban: Sure they do. They were all the subject of hardship and prejudice growing up.

Cooley: Right. They get it.

Czaban: All…those white privileged upper class members of the sports media. Yes. They’re down with the struggle.

UPDATE: The National Congress of American Indians responded to Cooley’s comments — calling them dehumanizing and offensive — in a press release:

Chris Cooley’s comments represent a sadly typical attempt to dehumanize Native Americans by pretending we do not exist. In this case, Mr. Cooley insultingly pretends that the Native American groups representing hundreds of thousands of Native Americans haven’t been leading the fight to end the Washington team’s use of a racial slur. In this Mr. Cooley proves exactly why this slur is such a problem – in defending the team’s insistence to retain the name and profit off a racial slur, he apparently sees Native Americans not as people, but as mere mascots to be ignored and denigrated. These kinds of degrading comments are completely inappropriate and unacceptable in today’s society, and we as Native peoples should not be subject to such characterizations.