As a former Washington Redskins player (1966-75) and Native American (Hawaiian Polynesian), I strongly support changing the name of Washington’s football team if the majority of Native Americans want it. However, I never felt, as a player or retired player, that the name was a slur, demeaning, derogatory or pejorative. As a political and social activist, I would never have tolerated the name if I felt it were a racist term or comparable to the N-word.
The Native American population’s economic, educational and health statistics — among the worst in this country — will not change if the Redskins change their name. There is a possibility that billionaire team owner Dan Snyder could make a difference in that equation. Mr. Snyder recently visited several Indian reservations to get views on the team name and learned of the dismal conditions there. The elders and leaders he met didn’t discuss the name but instead talked about the critical need for financial assistance to improve the welfare of their people.
Demanding a name change will not make a meaningful difference in the lives of Native Americans, particularly the young. Mr. Snyder, on the other hand, can make an immediate and long-term difference because he is a member of one of the country’s most powerful economic entities, the National Football League. He is personally invested in the Redskins name, as are the other team owners. With that interest comes great economic power that, if shared could, make a huge difference in the lives of Native Americans.
Ray Schoenke, Laytonsville
The debate over the name of the Washington football team continues, with most agreeing that the current name is offensive and degrading to Native Americans. Yet open the newspaper or turn on the news and every story leads with “Redskins.” Perhaps The Post should lead by example and no longer use that name in print and simply use “the Washington football team” until the message is clear.
“Redskins” is no longer acceptable and should not be tolerated. Using the name under the guise of reporting the news only perpetuates the situation.
Christine Taube, Burke
A few years ago when the Texas Rangers were to make their first trip back to the District since the team skulked out of Washington in 1971, I was like a kid at Christmas. I followed the Washington Senators as a young teen, I saw Frank Howard hit a mammoth home run, and I just knew with Ted Williams running things the team would contend. I was going to be in my regular seats at Nationals Park with thousands of other jilted fans doing my best to let the Rangers know what we thought of them.
When the big day arrived I was shocked at the lack of vitriol in the crowd. I was a voice in the wilderness screaming “You stink!” and “Who needs you?” from the upper deck. Some of my neighbors were looking at me like I was demented, and it was obvious that most people in the crowd had little or no idea of the history.
Now when the Rangers come they are just another visiting team, although I took no small measure of delight at the drubbing they took at our hands a week ago. We have our own team again, and they are far better than the Senators of the 1960s were. And Bob Short still stinks.
Steve Jaeger, Arlington