On Holidays, Heroes and A Patriot Named Brady

Fact-checking yet another Washington team-name debate.

I asked The MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas to weigh in on the latest back-and-forth over the controversy of dueling letters late in the week (50 U.S. senators asking for “Redskins” to be banned, club president Bruce Allen saying it’s a prideful moniker), particularly in the areas of their letters where facts are used. Her report:

In the debate about the name of Washington’s NFL team, there isn’t much common ground between the pro- and anti-Redskin side, but here’s one thing they can agree on: The conversation on the subject has never been louder. The two sides paint polar opposite pictures of the support for and appropriateness of the team name. What’s true, and what’s spin? Our take:

1.  Team says: An overwhelming majority of Native Americans do not find the name offensive.

The Battle Of Washington

Daniel Snyder says it honors the heritage of Native Americans; critics consider it nothing less than a racist slur. The MMQB set out to gauge the real sentiment. The short answer: It's complicated. FULL STORY

The team and the NFL use as proof a 2004 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy center, in which 768 self-identifying Native Americans were asked this question: “The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American, do you find that name offensive or doesn’t it bother you?” Ninety percent of those polled said the name did not bother them. It’s a leap, though, to say the results of that poll mean an overwhelming majority do not find the name offensive 10 years later, particularly when there is significant evidence to the contrary: Opposition from dozens of tribes or inter-tribal councils, including the country’s largest tribe, Navajo Nation, whose Council voted in April, and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), which represents more than 250 tribal governments. Allen did not write in his letter when the survey was taken or the sample size.

2. Senators say: This is a matter of tribal sovereignty—and Indian Country has spoken clearly on this issue.

Native Americans maintain sovereign tribal governments that hold a government-to-government relationship with the United States. That’s a lot of political speak, but what it means is that an entity like the NCAI, which operates out of the Embassy of Tribal Nations in Washington, D.C., represents the interests and critical issues of its more than 250 member tribes to the federal government. Their opposition to name represents the stance of their people, though when the senators write that Indian Country has spoken clearly on the issue, it’s not altogether true. Formal opposition from tribal organizations like the NCAI speak clearly, but the rank-and-file native citizens are mixed on the issue, something we at The MMQB found while reporting the issue this spring. We visited 18 Native American tribes in 10 states, speaking to ranking tribe officials and average native Americans. However, it’s clearly not the case, from our research, that 90 percent of native Americans either support the name or don’t find it offensive.

3. Team says: The term “Redskins” originated as a Native American expression of solidarity.

Allen’s letter correctly cites the research of Smithsonian senior linguist Ives Goddard, who traced the word “redskin” as a self-identifier among Piankashaw tribesmen in the mid-1700s. But he leaves out the negative connotations the word picked up over the next few centuries—its use in conjunction with the scalping practices of settlers, or the fact that even today, members of the Blackfeet tribe in Montana say being referred to as “redskins” and being denied service in a border town to their reservation go hand in hand. The word has benign origins, and can be an expression of kinship, and has taken on the usage of a slur against a group of people based on the color of their skin. All are true of the n-word, too, and we’ve learned to respect that word’s potency.

4. Team says: The vast majority of Americans are in favor of keeping the team name. 

The Associated Press conducted a survey in January 2014 asking a variety of questions via online interviews with 1,060 adults. And the AP reported that 83 percent responded that the Washington NFL team should not change its nickname. That, obviously, is a clear majority.

5. Team says: Our logo was designed by Native Americans. 

Several Native American groups, like the Oneida Indian Nation in 2013, have voiced their opposition to the name of Washington's NFL team. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Several Native American groups, like the Oneida Indian Nation in 2013, have voiced their opposition to the name of Washington’s NFL team. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The team’s name goes along with a logo of the profile of a Native American man. Allen writes that the current logo was designed by Walter Wetzel, member of the Blackfeet Nation and former NCAI president, and approved by Native American leaders in 1971, when Allen’s father was head coach. Wetzel’s term as NCAI president ended in 1964, and the NCAI says the logo was not created on its behalf. We couldn’t confirm or deny Wetzel’s involvement—the Blackfeet tribal council had no memory either way—but the team first used the profile of a Native American man in its logo from 1937 to 1964, and then a modified version from 1972 to the present.

To add:

Of the 49 Senators who signed the letter, 47 are democrats and two are independents. Both senators from Maryland, where Washington’s FedEx Field is located, signed in support of a name change; neither senator from Virginia, where the team has its headquarters, signed. On Thursday, Washington senator Maria Cantwell gave a speech on the Senate floor calling for bipartisan support of a name change. “I’m convinced that if each member of this body speaks on this issue and is forceful in their resolve that we can help initiate change,” she said.

Many have asked why government officials have gotten involved with this issue. Cantwell, former chairwoman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, explained her position to The MMQB earlier this spring. Her constituency in Washington includes members of 29 tribes; in Nevada, Senate majority leader Harry Reid represents members of 22 tribes.

“While [native Americans’ interests] might not be front and center in mid-Atlantic states, I guarantee they are a very integrated part of our economy in the Pacific Northwest and in other parts of the U.S.,” Cantwell said. “I just think that the NFL is out of touch with that and is just parroting the line the team has, which is definitely a very out-of-touch perspective.”

But not a perspective the team is bending on—at all. Wrote Allen in his letter to Reid: “Our use of ‘Redskins’ as the name of our football team for more than 81 years has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and tradition of native Americans.”

In other words, we’re not near the end of this story.   —J.V.

* * *

My take, as one who no longer uses the team name when I write about the Washington franchise: This is not going away. In fact, it’s intensifying. Bruce Allen writes a smart, cogent, mostly accurate letter, with the point the team has been making for months now—that they view the name as a noble tribute to native Americans everywhere. The fact is, there’s a burgeoning group of native Americans, which seems to grow larger by the month, that is offended by the name. Thousands, and I can’t tell you how many thousands, view the name as a slur. That number will increase as the story gains traction, which it’s doing now. Simply put, there are pockets of native Americans across the country, and an increasing cadre of politicians, that are not going to drop this. Does owner Daniel Snyder want this to be a continuing story for years? Does the team want to keep expending energy to fight this fight, and to risk turning off the other 31 owners and the league office with a black eye that is likely to come from a protracted fight over something that has nothing to do with making the league, and the team, better?

I’ve thought this for some time. At some point, at some league function or some private moment, but probably not for some time because it’s not a tidal wave of native sentiment yet, Roger Goodell and perhaps another owner Snyder trusts will go to Snyder and ask him, “Why are you doing this? Is this worth it? If you’re offending even 15 percent of native Americans in this country—and that’s probably a low number—is it worth it?”

To me, it just doesn’t make much sense for Snyder to keep fighting a fight that’s on the wrong side of history.

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435 comments
سلطانالشراري
سلطانالشراري

Turlough's first song? A hilarious and rather touching rendition of I'm Calm from A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum, with him offsetting his character's obvious nerves by frantically blowing into a paper bag in between phrases. A must-listen in the run-up to Christmas.

يوتيوب اهداف دوري عبداللطيف جميل
http://www.btls-photo.com/?video=class&class=51

سلطانالشراري
سلطانالشراري

Turlough's first song? A hilarious and rather touching rendition of I'm Calm from A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum, with him offsetting his character's obvious nerves by frantically blowing into a paper bag in between phrases. A must-listen in the run-up to Christmas. 
يوتيوب اهداف دوري عبداللطيف جميل
http://www.btls-photo.com

ProfessorGriff
ProfessorGriff

Peter - talk about these nuts with the guns.  Nothing wrong with them mentally except that they want their 15 minutes of fame, simply put.  I have that people try to cover for them saying they have mental defect which is complete BS.  They are just evil and heartless.

Edward George
Edward George

Peter......I have a question. Since the NFL wants to be popular on a National and International stage, why then is the Super Bowl ONLY played at NFL team facilities? For example, why not allow a game to be played in a wonderful tourist destination such as San Antonio or some large college football facility? If the 'good ole boys NFL ownership click' (because of the almighty dollar) will not allow such a concept, then at least rotate the games to each NFL town. Should towns like Pittsburgh never get a game while towns like New Orleans get the game a disproportionate number of times!!?? Just a thought!


Ed George

balo030869
balo030869

Brady OVERRATED, can not win a SB not knowing in advance what the defense' s play is going to be.  Life is hard after Spygate

Knowitall
Knowitall

Peter - FLASH. Topics for next week's MMQB

1) Shameful, disgraceful treatment of REAL Patriots in our VA system - and no explanation or action to correct it from the Adminstration. No clever Obama quote so far, but I'm sure you can find one.

2) Gross incompetence in disclosing the identity of the Head of the CIA in Afghanistan

3) Critcism of Hollywood's promotion of a depraved, moral-less culture and it's corruptive affect on mentally disturbed people like the Santa Barbara killer. (see the Washington Post).

You might have to pass on football entirely next week, Peter. Just too damn much going on in your sweet spot.

mike202
mike202

“While [native Americans’ interests] might not be front and center in mid-Atlantic states, I guarantee they are a very integrated part of our economy in the Pacific Northwest and in other parts of the U.S.,” Cantwell said. “I just think that the NFL is out of touch with that and is just parroting the line the team has, which is definitely a very out-of-touch perspective.”


As the former Chairwoman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Maria Cantwell should be well aware that of the 29 tribes in her home state of Washington, 11 have schools whose nickname is Redskins.

vince2
vince2

PK has become increasingly political, when he talks about anything!!!  He's driving me crazy.  I won't use the Washington franchise's nickname.  Ray Rice should have [insert PK's own views - including apologizing to his wife in public - when he obviously is dealing with her in a real way, not some bs public relations way.] I'm getting so tired of his preaching and moralizing and telling us how a gay draftee is the most important thing in the world and on and on and on.  The worst part is that I share some of his views, but I think it's offensive for him to act holier than not only thou but everyone.  Can't wait until he tells us why the Pope is wrong on birth control and what Muslims should really be concerned about and how women should have equal rights, but should always be treated differently (never, ever, ever, not ever hit a woman, even if she's about to split your head with a crowbar).  PK - you've made me a hater.  Luckily it's confined to you. 

vince2
vince2

Brady's math is the best.  Hate to tell you, Tommie, but 1% four weeks in a row still works out to 1%!

mike.stevey23
mike.stevey23

In Peters 10 things is think i think


Does anyone know what article he is talking about in terms of soccers impact on the northwest?


I would love to give it a read but cant seem to find it.

Robert Karp
Robert Karp

Hi Peter, I know you're a big Red Sox fan, but didn't they sign Drew, because Will Middlebrooks is on the DL and Bogaerts is being moved to 3B?

BlackDog
BlackDog

TroyBoy, you write:


"And I still think that, unless a man or someone he cares about is being physically threatened by a woman, striking her is cowardly and wrong. End of story. I suspect that was what Peter meant with his statement."


Peter King is an accomplished writer who chooses his words with care. If that's what he meant, he would have said so. Instead, he stated, "There is no excuse for hitting a woman. None. Never."


I, and many other commenters, have pointed out the fallacy of this mantra. That's the purpose of discussion boards like this -- to arrive at a deeper understanding of an issue, and to move closer to truth.


Frank 

TroyBoy
TroyBoy

I love how any viewpoint posted on the internet can cause outrage and people scrambling to disprove it. Men hitting women is disgusting except in extreme circumstances. In most cases, a man is physically stronger than a woman. Are there women who fight, who are great athletes, who are into bodybuilding? Sure. And I still think that, unless a man or someone he cares about is being physically threatened by a woman, striking her is cowardly and wrong. End of story. I suspect that was what Peter meant with his statement.


The upshot? To commenters trying to make yourself look clever with extreme scenarios: it isn't working.

BlackDog
BlackDog

Peter,


Great column, as always.  But you write, in connection with Ray Rice, that: "There is no excuse for hitting a woman. None. Never."


What if the woman outweighs the man by 100 pounds, and is choking him to death?

What if the woman, crazed on drugs, is slamming her infant's head against a wall?

What if the woman is a terrorist, and about to detonate a bomb on a crowded street.



Politically correct mantras  don't always stand the test of the real world.


Frank

Brig
Brig

So.......they're slow on the draw to punish Irsay and Rice because of the legal process being played out,  I get that.  But what's the hold up on Aldon Smith?

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

"To me, it just doesn’t make much sense for Snyder to keep fighting a fight that’s on the wrong side of history." 

And to me, it just doesn't make much sense for a sportswriter to use such a weak argument to claim that the debate is now closed. This reads like a sound bite from a political press conference. Why not just write, "the science of naming teams is now settled"?

armagecko
armagecko

"And there is no excuse for hitting a woman. None. Never." 


Gone to insensitivity training lately, Mr. King? How can a liberal journalist have missed the last 40 years of the women's rights movement? While I'm sure your misguided comments make you feel all chivalrous inside, they only continue to perpetuate the subjugation of women in our society. Women can be just as dangerous and as lethal as any man (google Maria Jiminez, Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester or even Calamity Jane). You've probably never heard of Renne Toney, Rhonda Rousey or Becca Swanson. If any one of these women were to hit you, you wouldn't remember your planet of origin. I'll bet none them think they need protection from a pudgy old man with an overactive guilt complex. In addition, women have proudly served in battlefield operations for over a decade. Insurgents in other countries have used women in combat for centuries. Brave men (and women) in our armed forces have not only hit - they have killed - other women. Now, you say that this was in some way less of an appropriate or "manly" action. On Memorial Day, no less! 


Women don't need your "protection", creep. They need and deserve equal rights under the law, equal opportunities in education and the workplace, and equal treatment in the media. You are ignorant and pathetic, and you should apologize for being a chauvinist pig. After your apology, I think you should resign for your offensive, insensitive and troglodytical comments. I hope that the feminist voices prosecute you as you and the self-assigned "media morality police" have done to the "offensive" Redskins. 



FranklinMint
FranklinMint

"To me, it just doesn’t make much sense for Snyder to keep fighting a fight that’s on the wrong side of history."


You don't make history by bowing to it. You make it by bucking it. I think there's a real potential here for the NFL Redskins to rehabilitate the term from a slur to at least a neutral term, if not an honorific. That might not be their actual goal, but I think it's a potential one. 


Maybe, just maybe, with the Redskins' help, at some point in the future no one will remember that the term had negative connotations and no one will use or consider the term a slur, and the word will lose all power to harm. That should be the ultimate goal, and if there being a very popular team with that name can help that process, we should definitely take that into account when deciding what should be done.

The5wineFlu
The5wineFlu

It is BS to say there is never a reason to hit a woman.  There can be a reason.  What if she pulls a weapon on you and is intent on doing serious damage to you or another?

Wolfpack
Wolfpack

Since we are changing names that offend us, I'd like to change the New England Patriots name.  It offends me that only New Englanders are recognized as "Patriots".  I want to change all team names that represent animals because I'm offended that they didn't ask permission to use animal names and I'm sure that PETA doesn't like it and will organize protests.  I'd like to change the Raiders and Buccaneers' names because I'm offended that it glorifies a terrible time in our nation's history.  I even want to change the San Diego Chargers name even though I don't know what a Charger is other than a plate at the dinner table, and as a guy, it offends me that I know that!

WhateverItTakes
WhateverItTakes

"Say you’re off 1 percent on your mechanics of throwing in one week, and you don’t fix it. Over four weeks, if you keep going, that’s 4 percent that you’re off."  Really?  No, Mr. Brady, it's still 1 percent, just 1 percent of a bigger number.

Kevin1
Kevin1

@ProfessorGriff  you do know that he stabbed 3 of his victims, don't you ??? oh that's right, the media (including Peter) didn't tell you that. I wonder why ?

blynder
blynder

@Edward George

I thought there was some discussion maybe 2 years ago about having a Super Bowl in London or some other venue.  The revenue does play a huge role in it; the "but" statements were about people getting there (affordably - which is kind of ironic when you look at who goes and how much tickets actually cost) and putting butts in the seats. 

Having it at a venue like San Anton or one of the larger College venue's is interesting - but working in Higher Ed I have doubts as to whether or not they'd go for something like that.  The $$$ would have to be pretty enticing.

VanHayhow
VanHayhow

@balo030869 Ever try logical thinking? Reading your post, I would guess not. In the last two superbowls the Pats lost, they had a lead into the final time period which the defense could not hold.

SteveRowFla
SteveRowFla

@vince2 Here here. I couldn't agree more. The funniest part was defending Cuban (as would I) and his right to free speech, while castigating REDSKINS fans and ownership.

Jeff1992
Jeff1992

@vince2   Actually, you're wrong.  The formula would be:  (100% - 1 %) ^4   and the answer is 96.06% !! Or a 4% cumulative degradation is performance from 100%.


FranklinMint
FranklinMint

@The5wineFlu What if she's actually the she-hulk and turns all green and muscled and comes at you with a sledgehammer?


Sure, you can come up with all sorts of hypotheticals from the unlikely to the ridiculous, but I think you and anyone with a functional brain gets his actual point. 

rwill27
rwill27

@Wolfpack  There is only one team that uses a racial slur for their name.

Hienieken
Hienieken

@WhateverItTakes C'mon man.  It's athletes and numbers.  These are the same group of guys that are always giving 110 or 120% effort.  How do you give more than 100% effort?

ShaunSterling
ShaunSterling

@WhateverItTakes Actually, your analogy only works of 1% from a bigger(or smaller depending on framework basis) number if your talking about the change the last week from the previous week, but his point was from the starting point, not from the 3rd week to the 4th week. 

ShaunSterling
ShaunSterling

@WhateverItTakes What?


What do you mean 1% of a bigger number? Actually, if your mechanics drift 1% each week, at the end its ALMOST 4%. Because each time 1% is of a SMALLER number if your using an absolute accuracy percentage, but if your talking about drifting 1% each week from a geometrical range, like 1% left or up or what have you and you don't backtrack in any direction then you could justify the 4% comment. Either way it depends on the basis, but 1% of a bigger number I am not sure how you are coming up with that, maybe it works but in what framework of comparison?

Ron5
Ron5

@FranklinMint @The5wineFlu his actual point is about as sexist as you can get, I wonder if no-neck has heard that women box, wrestle and play football? They don't need a lard-a like King to protect them.

mike202
mike202

@rwill27 @Wolfpack The Cleveland Indians is also a racial slur if will.  Indians is as much of a slur as Redskins is

Tbone5150
Tbone5150

@Ron5 @FranklinMint @The5wineFlu Its actually a little funny that by supporting Rice's girlfriend, Super Lib Peter is actually being sexist in thinking that she couldn't handle her business. Hitting anyone male, female or other is never OK. Sex has nothing to do with it PK.

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