Senator: Foundation won't fix issue

Updated: March 27, 2014, 6:07 PM ET
By John Keim | ESPN.com

One responded with jokes; the other with a strong prediction. Both had the same point: The foundation started by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder will not quell the controversy over the franchise's nickname.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, D-Nev., told The Washington Post that the Redskins name will change within three years. Meanwhile, political satirist Stephen Colbert dropped one line after another on the Redskins' starting the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.

"Folks, the PC police continue to hammer the Washington Redskins over their so-called 'offensive' name," Colbert said on his show. "Though, if you've seen them play recently, their name is the least offensive thing on the field."

It was Reid who had the harshest words for Snyder, calling the foundation a "phony deal."

"He's going to throw a few blankets to the Indians and get a tax deduction for it," Reid told the Post. "I can't imagine why the man doesn't realize that the name is going to change. It's only a question of when it's going to change. That's the only question."

Reid said Snyder should follow the path of late Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who changed the NBA team's nickname from the Bullets.

"Snyder has to realize, he is on the losing side of history," Reid said. "And the sooner he does it, the better off we are. ... I don't know what [the Redskins will] change the name to, but we'll get used to it really quick."

The foundation is designed to provide supplies and resources to Native Americans around the country. It's helped one tribe buy a backhoe and has handed out more than 3,000 winter coats. Gary Edwards, a Cherokee who is in charge of the foundation, said it already has 40 projects.

A day after announcing the foundation, general manager Bruce Allen scoffed at the idea that the Redskins were trying to buy people off over the name issue with the move.

"If anyone says that, they're insulting Native Americans," Allen said, "and I would take offense at that on their behalf. They obviously don't know what they're talking about."

Reid has spoken out against the team's name in the past. He told the Post the nickname would change within the next three years "because Native Americans are organized."

"We have Native Americans who now are not all poor," Reid said. "We've got these Indian gaming establishments who have money, who are going to help with this. And Dan Snyder's not the only person in the world with money."

Meanwhile, Colbert went for the laughs.

"That's right, the 'Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.' Because 'Redskins' is not offensive if you only use it once in your name," he said.

And then this: "The foundation also assisted in the purchase of a new backhoe for the Omaha tribe. That's right, assisted. Because you can't expect a team worth $1.7 billion to pay for the entire backhoe. Those things cost thousands. To cover that price, they'd have to sell a beer and a soft pretzel."

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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