Politics

06.12.13

Roger Goodell's Dishonest Letter

(Warning: offensive words contained herein.) NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has written a letter to the 10 members of Congress pushing the Redskins matter that the name is just fine by him. He writes that it "has always been used in a respectful manner" and that the NFL of course is deeply sensitive to the diversity that has made this country great.

The main part is this though: "As you know may know, the team began as the Boston Braves in 1932, a name that honored the courage and heritage of Native Americans. The following year, the name was changed to Redskins--in part to avoid confusion with the Boston baseball team of the same name, but also to honor the team's then-coach, William 'Lone Star' Dietz."

That's all true as far as it goes, but it leaves a lot out--you can tell by the switch to the fishy passive voice ("the name was changed"). The name was the brainchild of an open and avowed racist, George Preston Marshall. Also the team moved to Washington in short order, at which point any confusion with Boston's baseball Braves would have been purely theoretical. Also  Marshall fired Dietz after just two years and hired a white coach. Why didn't he change the name to Paleskins? The next coach was Eddie Casey. Sounds maybe Irish. Why didn't Marshall change the name to the Micks?

I suspect two reasons. First, because Marshall didn't hate white people, even Irish ones. Second, because Micks would have been considered beyond the (as it were) pale. Because Irish-Americans had political power. Native Americans had none. And that's how Redskins became "okay." It's that simple. I feel certain Goodell understands this, he's just too cowardly to say it. Appalling. I like the idea of one of my recent tweeters, who suggests referring to the team as the Washington Hebes until owner Dan Snyder comes to his senses.