What a Joke

Dan Snyder's Indian Chief Is Neither

A really lame and pathetic p.r. move by Washington football club owner Dan Snyder.

This is just great, from Deadspin a while back, which I'd missed initially. It seems that Danny "I'm doing my best George Preston Marshall imitation" Snyder enlised a Native American chieftain, a certain Chief Dodson, to step forward on the May 3 of the R-----s Nation TV show to say that he thought the team's name was cute and endearing.

Nice strategy. One problem:

Alas, there's a lot of evidence that Chief Dodson—whose real name is Stephen D. Dodson—ain't the perfect pitchman that Snyder and Goodell want him to be. It turns out that the "full-blooded American Inuit chief" is neither a full-blooded American Inuit nor a chief in any formal sense of the term.

Let's start with that last part. Apparently nobody but Dodson says Dodson's really a chief. The work shirt from Charley's Crane Services that Dodson wore on Redskins Nation had "Chief Dodson" stitched into it alongside the company's name. But the only references I could find to Dodson and "Chief" that predate his appearance as "Redskin"-lovin' aboriginal royalty appeared in court records in Maryland. Case files from some of Stephen D. Dodson's scrapes with the law—involving theft, paternity, and domestic violence matters—have "Chief" listed as one of the defendant's AKAs.

When Indian Country Today ran a story about the Redskins Nation appearance, a commenter purporting to be Dodson's relative said that Dodson's native bona fides had been exaggerated. The commenter said Dodson is not a full-blooded member of any tribe and is in fact one-quarter Aleut, not Inuit. And "Chief"? "[T]hat was his nickname," the commenter wrote.

Carla Brueshaber, who identified herself as Dodson's sister, said she had nothing to do with the Indian Country Today comment, but she confirmed that Dodson wasn't as advertised on the Redskins program. "No, he's not a chief, not technically. It's a nickname," said Brueshaber, now living in Bellefontaine, Ohio, where Dodson went to high school, according to his 2000 wedding announcement in the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa.

Asked why she thought Dodson was being portrayed by the Redskins and the NFL as an authentic Indian chief, Brueshaber said, "Somebody made a mistake and called him [Chief]. The Redskins went full steam ahead with it. They didn't check it because it was helping them."

There's more. Click through on the above link to read about how sloppily and cavalierly and plain old incorrectly the WFO (Washington football organization, which I'll use heretofore as shorthand) described Dodson's alleged lineage, showing that no one at the organization really gave one-tenth of a shit about where these people actually come from.

Now I know some of you, aside from telling me just to shut up, are going to invoke that new WashPost poll showing two-thirds of Washingtonians saying they should keep the name. But I saw some reason for future hope in the results. Most of those respondents, 56 percent of the two-thirds, think that the word in question is an inappropriate one to use. That's a rather serious clash of values, and most people can't really sustain that for long. Eventually, conscience will defeat fandom.

I also would like to note here: The Washington City Paper, God bless it, will not print the team's name. And neither will the Kansas City Star. Yes, as some wiseacre will point out in the comments, this is the hometown of the Chiefs. But there's nothing wrong with Chief. A chief is a good thing. Nothing derogatory about it. So bravo, KC Star.