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Monday, May 5, 2014
Bobby Mitchell weighs in on name change

By John Keim

Bobby Mitchell remains conflicted about the Redskins nickname – but he stopped short of saying it should change.

Mitchell, one of the more beloved players in franchise history – and the first African American acquired by the team -- isn’t sure what will happen or even what should occur. He understands the complaints; he doesn't want to abandon his past.

“That’s a tough one. That’s a tough one,” he said at the NFL Hall of Fame FanFest in Cleveland, via ESPN NFL Nation’s Pat McManamon. “Because if you go down in my basement, everything is Redskins. Tons of it. I don’t know.”

He did say that owner Dan Snyder should ”answer it a little better than he has” and that “things do change.”

Mitchell is the latest ex-player to deliver an opinion on the Redskins nickname, admitting to conflicting feelings. London Fletcher admitted recently he felt uncomfortable about it and even spoke to general manager Bruce Allen. Art Monk and Darrell Green discussed the topic last summer; in a subsequent interview Green cleared up any perception that both wanted the name changed.

Mitchell said reporters have tried for six months to ask him about this topic, though he did an interview on it more than a year ago with Hogs Haven.

On Sunday, Mitchell said when he arrived in Washington, he doesn’t remember anyone having a problem with the nickname. And on his first day in town, he was in owner George Preston Marshall’s basement to discuss a contract.

I’ll let Mitchell take it from there:

“I was sitting there talking to him and I didn’t hear much of anything he said because I was so impressed that all around that room were portraits of Indians chiefs. He had every Indian chief that he could name. Big portraits. He was talking and I was just looking. I was so impressed because at that time, Redskins, everybody was going nuts. Mr. Marshall never had an empty seat in his stadium in those days because every team coming up from the south was full of fans. So he was in the black all the time. I was caught up in it like everybody else, the Redskins fans. And that’s where it’s been all these many, many years.

“And yet I had a couple Indians buddies who was walking around when I was getting my butt kicked about ‘you come in here, changing things.’ They were part of the group saying, ‘You should be helping us.’ I said, ‘Well nobody’s helping me.’ Some of those guys I’ve known for years, the Indian guys. I know what they’ve gone through, I know what they feel. They have more people speaking out now. In that time there was only two or three of them. So this is a difficult, difficult situation. Dan Snyder has to answer to it a little better than he has. Because things do change. Things do change. When I hear Redskins I still feel the same way about it as I did when I came here in all our glory years. It’s just that now when you say, ‘Yeah Redskins’, you can’t help it. Because as a black man I understand what the Indians are saying. I understand. So I don’t know how this will work out.”