JOHN STEIGERWALD: Snyder needs to find new name for Redskins
Dan Snyder needs to give it up.
Snyder is the owner of the Washington Redskins, and every day another prominent person tells him he needs to come up with a new nickname. Bob Costas, whose next courageous, against-the-grain stance will be his first, was the latest to jump on the anti-Redskins bandwagon during halftime of NBC ’ s Sunday Night Football.
Costas ’ self-righteous, ill-informed attempt to show America what a sensitive guy he is by calling for more gun control after a murder-suicide involving a Kansas City Chiefs player last year was enough to make me want to go out and buy my first gun, but this time I think he ’ s right.
Not because I agree that the name Redskins is a racist slur since it ’ s easy to see that it is to some Native Americans and is not to others, but because Snyder should see that the bandwagon has turned into a runaway train that isn ’ t going to stop.
There are lots of high schools, with mostly Native American students, whose teams are nicknamed the Redskins, and they have no interest in changing, but they don ’ t play in the nation ’ s capital and on five national TV networks.
Nationally syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer had the most reasoned take on the subject this week. He said the name should be changed, not
because Costas or President Obama say so, but because the meaning of a word changes over time.
He cited the word “ negro ” as an example and pointed out that it was used 15 times in Martin Luther King ’ s “ I Have a Dream ” speech.
He said, “ If you had been asleep for 50 years, you might (use the word). But upon being informed how the word had changed in nuance, you would stop using it and use another. ” And Krauthammer said you wouldn ’ t stop using it because of the language
police, “ but simply because the word was tainted, freighted with negative connotations with which you would not want to be associated. ”
We ’ ll probably never get a true measurement of the extent to which the name Redskins is offensive to a Native American person or the percentage who are not offended at all, but Snyder and the Redskins ’ fans are rapidly headed for being in
a position of defending the indefensible, if they haven ’ t already been there for a while.
Bottom line, it ’ s only a football team. Change the name. Have a contest. Get a new logo. Sell a bunch of T-shirts.
But, please, come up with something better than Wizards.
• Le ’ Veon hasn ’ t rung my Bell yet. I know he ’ s only played two games and only carried the ball 32 times, but I have been impressed by Steelers running backs with fewer carries.
Barry Foster comes to mind. He looked like the best runner in the Steelers ’ preseason as a rookie in 1990, but, despite showing flashes in 1991, didn ’ t get a real chance to play until Bill Cowher took over for Chuck Noll in 1992 — the year he set the Steelers ’ single-season
rushing record that still stands.
Super-talented running backs usually reveal themselves right away. Backs that can only look good when running through big holes tend to do the same. There are plenty of reasons for Bell not to have shown much to this point, not the least of which is an
injured foot, followed closely by a discombobulated, offensive line.
Those are facts, not excuses. I ’ m not writing the kid off. Far from it. Based on what he did at Michigan State and the video I ’ ve seen, I would be surprised if he doesn ’ t turn out to be a good NFL back.
Just saying that I have yet to be impressed.
• Bell ’ s head coach seemed pretty impressed by his 34 yards on 16 carries against the Jets last week. Mike Tomlin said, “ He was running with the demeanor that we desire. ”
Whatever that means.
• There is no bigger “ if ” than the one that precedes the words “ Sidney Crosby stays healthy, ” but, if he does, based on the way he ’ s played to this point, he is going to make a Lemieux-like mockery of the NHL scoring race.
• I had the opportunity to watch two entire NFL games last week — the Steelers ’ win over the Jets and the Chargers ’ win over the Colts. I saw two touchdowns and 13 field goals.
The four kickers in those two games have now made 48 of 52 attempts, including 20 of 20 from 40 to 49 yardzzzzzz. … Oh, I ’ m sorry. I dozed off.
• Championship games that last four hours and end at midnight cannot possibly be good for the long-term health of major league baseball. How many of us old guys would remember seeing Bill Mazeroski ’ s 1960 World Series home run if it had happened five minutes before midnight on a Wednesday?