The NFL team located in the vicinity of Washington — its practice facility is in Virginia, its stadium is in Maryland — has a nickname that can be polarizing and controversial.
For some, anyway.
A recent Associated Press/GfK poll showed 79 percent nationally think “Redskins” is a fine nickname for the team and should not be changed.
While I wasn’t part of the poll, you can include me among the minority who think the name should be changed.
But also count me as someone who thinks several factors make this poll irrelevant.
Dan Snyder owns the team and has final say in the matter. He didn’t pick the nickname, but if he’s willing to endure the figurative sticks and stones it generates in his direction, that’s his choice.
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And it doesn’t matter what 79 percent of the country thinks about “Redskins.” What matters is how American Indians feel about an NFL team using “Redskins” as its nickname.
“It doesn’t bother me,” said Robert Green, 66 and chief of the Patawomeck Tribe in Virginia. “About 98 percent of my tribe is Redskins fans, and it doesn’t offend them, either.”
Kevin Brown, 58 and chief of the Pamunkey Tribe of Virginia, said, “I’m a Redskins fan, and I don’t think there’s any intention for (the nickname) to be derogatory. The majority of the people in my tribe don’t have a problem with it. There are a few who do, and we respect their feelings.
“I like the uniforms. I like the symbol (logo).”
G. Anne Richardson, chief of Virginia’s Rappahannock Tribe, had to stifle a laugh when asked her feelings on the Redskins’ nickname.
“I don’t have an issue with it,” she said. “There are so many more issues that are important for the tribe than to waste time on what a team is called. We’re worried about real things, and I don’t consider that a real thing.
“We’re more worried about our kids being educated, our people housed, elder care and the survival of our culture. We’ve been in that survival mode for 400 years. We’re not worried about how some ball team is named.”
But if the ball team did not have a nickname some believe denigrates an indigenous culture, those making decisions to provide money for education, housing, elder care and the preservation of that culture might take the issues more seriously.
“That has nothing to do with why we don’t receive the benefits we deserve,” Richardson said. “Congress is not willing to do what they need to do so we will get what we deserve.
“Congress is not willing to do what most Americans need right now, so I don’t feel so bad.”
For the record, Richardson, 57, is a football fan.
“I’m not a Redskins fan, but I cheer for them when they’re not playing my team,” she said.
And her team is?
“I can’t say,” she said. “They’ll impeach me.”
Brownisn’t bothered by the way some fans of the Washington team dress or behave at games.
“I don’t mind the nuts with headdresses on,” he said. “Fans are crazy.”
There was only one reason Brown said should be considered for changing the team’s nickname.
“It’s just a distraction,” he said. “It’s always brought up when I’m watching the games. I don’t like hearing it. I get tired of the whole controversy. Leave it alone or change it.”
Nothing indicates that change is going to come.
“There are so many more issues that are important for the tribe than to waste time on what a team is called. We’re worried about real things, and I don’t consider that a real thing.”
G. Anne Richardson
Chief of Virginia’s Rappahannock Tribe
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