NFL Defends the 'R-Word'
Responding to a plea from members of Congress to change the Washington Redskins’ bigoted name, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote, “The name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”
That statement and the position it represents offended Michael Wilbon of ESPN’s popular talk show “Pardon the Interruption.” Wilbon, who is African-American, pointed out that the word is as offensive as the “N-word” or any other racial epithet. His co-host, Tony Kornheiser, said he was surprised that Goodell, the son of a senator, could be so politically tone-deaf. Both sportscasters are longtime residents of Washington, D.C., and Redskins fans.
In discussing the matter and likening one epithet to another, the hosts illustrated the problem. They used the word that causes offense to Native Americans with wild abandon, but referred only to the “N-word” by comparison. The word “Redskins” also appeared onscreen as a graphic. If the “N-word” had appeared in the same place, it would have been a news story unto itself.
The team’s owner, Dan Snyder, has recently said he would never change the name.
In his letter, Goodell writes that the issues surrounding the Redskins name are “complex” but that the team is “proud of its heritage and the culturally rich community it serves, and its fans are understandably attached to that history and the team’s identity.”
— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer.