For at least the second time in the past year, former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs was asked about the team’s name.
The latest question came Saturday, before a NASCAR race at Kentucky Speedway, at a press conference announcing a contract extension between Joe Gibbs Racing and driver Matt Kenseth.
“Coach, your former team the Redskins has been in the news a lot recently, with their name change and people talking about that,” USA Today’s Jeff Gluck said. “I’m just curious what are your thoughts seeing all the controversy that surrounds that, and how do you feel about the name?”
“I’ll go brief on that,” Gibbs said. “I grew up in North Carolina. The only team we could get on TV in the late ’40s was the Redskins. I pulled for them my whole life. Never thought I had a dream of coaching ’em. For the whole time I was there, 15 years — and Cindy told me the other day, my secretary who was there for the last four years — never once did I hear anybody ever say anything negative about the name Redskins.
“It was always prideful, it was courage involved,” Gibbs went on. “We have a song, Hail to the Redskins. And so everything, EVERYTHING about that name has been positive for me in my past.”
Gibbs had previously discussed the name in September, before a roast in his honor at Landsdowne Resort.
“For me, from the time I grew up as a young kid running around the hills of North Carolina, the only football team we could get was the Redskins,” Gibbs said then. “So from that time on, everything I’ve known or been a part of has been Redskins. I never, ever thought of it as anything negative; it’s all been a positive. I think that’s what I reflect on: I reflect on the song, the games and everybody being loyal Redskins people.”
(Note: A wire version of this item ran on our Web site over the weekend, and appeared in Sunday’s newspaper. Still, some commenters wondered why our blogs hadn’t picked up on it. I had been trying to get the full audio of the exchange, as I typically do when I write about this issue. I didn’t receive the audio until Tuesday, which is why I’m just publishing it now. Surely, something in the above explanation will provide evidence of bias and bad intentions on my part.)
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