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Washington Pigskins owner Dan Snyder has softened his tone since declaring he would “NEVER” change the football team’s “usually offensive” name, but the dogged billionaire doesn’t seem any closer to actually doing anything about it.
Snyder wrote a letter to fans today, which was posted on the team’s website and emailed out, explaining why he believes the team’s name shouldn’t be changed even though it is, by definition, a racial slur against Native Americans.
Our franchise has a great history, tradition and legacy representing our proud alumni and literally tens of millions of loyal fans worldwide. We have participated in some of the greatest games in NFL history, and have won five World Championships. We are proud of our team and the passion of our loyal fans. Our fans sing “Hail to the [Pigskins]” in celebration at every [Pigskins] game. They speak proudly of “[Pigskins] Nation” in honor of a sports team they love.
So when I consider the Washington [Pigskins] name, I think of what it stands for. I think of the Washington [Pigskins] traditions and pride I want to share with my three children, just as my father shared with me—and just as you have shared with your family and friends.
I respect the opinions of those who disagree. I want them to know that I do hear them, and I will continue to listen and learn. But we cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name “[Pigskins]” continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.
We are [Pigskins] Nation and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage.
Snyder’s letter comes days after President Barack Obama said if he owned the team, he’d consider changing the name.
On Monday, the Oneida Indian Nation organized a symposium, with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Rep. Betty McCollum on the panel, that discussed why the team name was so detrimental to the community and Native Americans. Norton said she did not expect the name to last much longer.
Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritten issued a press release in response to Snyder’s letter:
“In the spirit of the dialogue that Mr. Snyder says he is willing to engage in, we are inviting him to join the NFL delegation in its upcoming meeting at our Homelands. During his visit, we will organize a special meeting of Oneida Nation families where Mr. Snyder can personally explain to them why he believes they deserve to be called “redskins.” He can then hear directly from them why that term is so painful.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery