The Redskins have continued their vigorous pushback against critics of their team name in recent days, releasing a YouTube video featuring Native Americans who say they support the name, putting owner Dan Snyder on ESPN 980 and SportsCenter to defend the name, and having the announcing teams for both the television and radio broadcasts discuss the team-funded Redskins Facts site during last week’s preseason opener.
The team also approached Comcast SportsNet with the idea of putting four of the Redskins Facts “alumni captains” in a roundtable setting to discuss a bunch of issues for a special television program. One of those issues, of course, would be the Redskins name.
Chris Cooley, Gary Clark, Ray Schoenke and Mark Moseley sat down with CSN’s Chick Hernandez in front of a studio audience of several dozen military personnel in Richmond earlier this month. The hour-long program — “Redskins Nation: Alumni Special” — will debut Wednesday night at 8, with at least two encore presentations.
The discussion “will cover several topics, including this year’s team, the Dallas Cowboys rivalry and the controversy surrounding the team’s name,” according to a press release.
The “Redskins Nation” label is attached to the program partly because it is co-produced with the Redskins Broadcast Network, and partly because that allows CSN to use archival footage of the team, as in the daily Redskins Nation shows, which are typically hosted by Larry Michael, the team’s senior vice president and executive producer of media. Comcast SportsNet made the decision to have Hernandez moderate the discussion, since he has been the Redskins beat reporter, according to a spokesman.
While each of the four ex-players addresses the name issue in the special, a spokesman said that segment makes up only about 10 minutes of the hour-long program.
“It was actually interesting, because one of the arguments that I’ve heard from a lot of people is you would never go to a reservation and call someone a Redskin,” Cooley says during the program, in a preview clip posted on CSNWashington.com. “And so I thought, well, why not? And so I’ve been to five or six reservations now over the last three months, and spent a lot of time just asking them how they feel about it. And the first time you go, you think ‘Ok, how do I address this?’ By the second time you go, you say ‘what do you think about the name?’ ”
While many ex-Redskins greats have been extremely vocal in their support of the team name, others have been more cautious. London Fletcher said he “started feeling a little bit uneasy about it” near the end of his career. Champ Bailey, who is not retired, said “when it starts peeling off old scabs and people are pitching a fit about it because it’s degrading to them, then you’ve got to make a change.” Art Monk, Calvin Hill, Tre Johnson, and others have also expressed varying degrees of uncertainty.
Michael, meanwhile, introduced the name topic during the first half of last week’s preseason radio broadcast, after Cooley pointed out that rookie pass rusher Trent Murphy used to wrestle steer.
“HEY! You’ve been to a rodeo recently, haven’t you?” Michael asked Cooley.
“I HAVE been to a rodeo,” the analyst responded.
“And what about that, because we’ve heard the news, the Redskins Facts Web site is out, you’re part of that effort,” Michael said. “Tell us about it, in between some plays here, about what you’ve seen in your trips.”
“Well, it’s been fantastic,” Cooley said. ” We were in Hardin, Montana, on Crow Agency Reservation. And we got to go to a Native American rodeo, which had almost 4,000 people watching this rodeo. We got a chance to really talk to some of these people and see how they feel. They’re so proud of who they are, so proud of what they do, and really Larry, proud of our football team. A lot of people that really enjoy our football team, enjoy our name, enjoy our logo.”
“And in fact, you know the name of one of those rodeo teams,” Michael prompted.
“A rodeo team there that competed asked our team if they could use the name Redskins,” Cooley said. “And I thought that was really cool. They actually sent in an e-mail and said we want to be the Washington Redskins as well, and now we sponsor that team.”
“RedskinsFacts.com, if you want to know the truth,” Michael said, to finish the discussion.
Joe Theismann and Kenny Albert also talked about the site during the preseason television broadcast.