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Friday, May 23, 2014
Redskins GM: Nickname staying

By John Keim
ESPN.com

The Washington Redskins continue to fight back regarding their nickname, with general manager Bruce Allen sending a letter to Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid explaining why the name is not about to change in response to a letter Reid and 49 other senators sent to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this week urging him to force a change of the nickname.

Reid headlined the letter, which used the NBA's case with banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to try to force the NFL into action.

"The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations," the letter read. "We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises."

The arguments used in rebuttal by Allen and the Redskins haven't changed much, but the letter went into further detail as to why the name will remain.

Allen wrote, "The Redskins team name continues to carry a deep and purposeful meaning."

Allen highlighted several areas, starting with the origin of the word redskins. Allen cited a seven-month study by Smithsonian Institution senior linguist Ives Goddard. In the study, which is available online, Goddard concluded the origin of the word was "benign and reflects more positive aspects of relations between Indians and whites."

Allen also reiterated that the current logo was designed in 1971 by Native American leaders, including Walter "Blackie" Wetzel, a former president of the National Congress of American Indians. The same group has come out strongly against the Redskins' nickname, with Jackie Pata, the current executive director, saying Thursday that the NFL "must stop promoting this slur and finally change the name."

But Allen used the words of Wetzel's son, Don. In a story that appeared in the Great Falls Tribune in February, Don Wetzel said, "It needs to be said that an Indian from the state of Montana created that logo, and did it the right way. It represents the Red Nation and it's something to be proud of."

The rest of the letter spent time citing polls in support of the name, starting with a 10-year-old poll by Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The survey found that 90 percent of 768 Native Americans surveyed had no problem with the name. Allen also included a picture of a high school on an Indian reservation in Arizona that uses Redskins as a nickname.

He also said a 2014 poll by the Associated Press found 83 percent of Americans were in favor of keeping the name.

Allen closed by informing Reid of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation that owner Dan Snyder formed earlier this spring.

Allen urged Reid to "think about these facts ... what policy or issue generates 83 to 90 percent support in this era of negativity and division?"