Joe Theismann, the former Washington Redskins quarterback who is now a broadcaster for the team, has long been sympathetic to those who find the team’s nickname offensive but has always stood by it, saying he was proud to have honored Native Americans by playing for the team.
On Thursday morning, he called a new Washington Post survey that found that nine of 10 Native Americans were not offended by the name “significant.”
“The reason why it’s significant is because it comes from the Native American nation,” Theismann told The Post’s Liz Clarke. “You’ve got politicians commenting on this, a lot of people commenting on this. To me, the people that matter are the Native Americans of this country. It’s their voice that I think [it] is important to listen to. …
“We’re in a state in our society where if one person raises an issue, it seems like it becomes an issue for a lot of people. Will it ever go away? It has never gone away. This goes back many, many years. It’s just every now and then, it surfaces.
“But I think that this poll, as it shows 90 percent of Native Americans favoring the name, it hopefully will put it to rest for a long time.”
Theismann, who won a Super Bowl with the team, has always taken the stance that he was representing Native Americans when he took the field in the burgundy and gold.
“I can tell you that when I was at the children’s hospital this morning, there was a young Native American boy there with his parents,” he told the Argus Leader during a trip to South Dakota almost three years ago. “His grandmother wanted a picture with me, and his father took the picture. And as I shook his hand the father said to me, ‘You’re a Redskin,’ and he said it in a very complimentary way, which was very humbling to me. …
“I was very proud to play for the Washington Redskins, and I did it to honor native people in that regard,” Theismann continued. “I think sometimes people perceive words in their own particular way. What happens, what [owner Daniel Snyder] decides to do is totally up to him. I can just tell you that when I put that uniform on, and I put that helmet on with the Redskin logo on it, I felt like I was representing more than the Washington Redskins: I was representing the great Native American nations that exist in this country.”
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