Before Chris Cooley and Bob Costas debated the Redskins name on ESPN’s hour-long “Outside the Lines” special report Tuesday, ESPN featured snippets of its sit-down interview with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. To open the segment, ESPN reporter John Barr asked Snyder, “What is a Redskin?”
“A Redskin is a football player,” Snyder said. “A Redskin is our fans, the Washington Redskin fan base. It represents honor, represents respect, represents pride, hopefully winning.”
Barr then asked Snyder why he thinks some people consider the name a slur and dictionaries define it as something that’s disparaging to Native Americans.
“I think you’re going to have some people that feel a certain way, absolutely, and we respect those opinions,” Snyder said. “But I hope they respect our opinion. The respect needs to be mutual, and I hope they do.”
Snyder was also asked why he had agreed to an interview about the nickname controversy at all, which is something I had wondered. Snyder’s opinion on the matter is well documented. What more is there to say?
“I actually didn’t want to,” Snyder said, laughing. “I don’t know, people think that they need to hear the truth, they need to hear some history, they need to hear the facts. So I said, okay, I’ll tell them.”
Snyder returned to the issue of truth later in the interview.
“As my father would say, the truth’s on your side,” said Snyder, who stands by the story that George Preston Marshall renamed the team in 1933 to honor its first coach, William ‘Lone Star’ Dietz. “We’ve traveled and we’ve seen the truth. Nobody in Washington, D.C. wants to talk about the truth, so the truth is on our side.”
Comcast SportsNet’s Chick Hernandez asked Snyder about how he and his team have engaged in the nickname debate during their recent sit-down interview.
“The prevailing opinion whenever there’s a controversy — the PR move for most PR firms — is let’s just stay quiet, let it blow over,” Hernandez said. “You guys didn’t do that, and sometimes it’s backfired. Why choose to be more vocal about it than not?”
“I always say this in life, truth is on your side,” Snyder said. “I believe in that. And the logo in 1971, was helped designed by the head of Blackfeet Nation, the chair of Blackfeet Nation at the time, Walter ‘Blackie’ Wetzel. They designed the logo. And the truth’s on your side. I believe in that so much, passionately, that we wanted the fans, as well as everyone else, to know the historical facts because it’s important.”
Hernandez also asked Snyder about the harm in changing the name.
“I’m the steward of this franchise,” Snyder said. “Most important to me are the fans, the alumni, the players, and we owe — all of us — a great gratitude to what built this franchise. It’s to John Riggins, it’s to Sonny Jurgensen, it’s to Sammy Baugh, it’s to Bobby Mitchell. Bobby Mitchell is, to me, an icon, and the name of the franchise, and who he played for, and who he respects, it’s the Washington Redskins. Everyone’s so proud of that. We owe so much to the alumni.”
Is there anything that could change Snyder’s mind?
“I think we’ve said so much at this point, we know where we are,” Snyder said. “We respect everyone’s opinions, we really do. And hopefully they respect ours.”