Santana Moss: Calls to change Redskins name can't be ignored

Ben Krimmel
July 03, 2020 - 7:05 pm

Santana Moss didn't think this day would come, but he wasn't entirely surprised by the news the Washington Redskins would "undergo a thorough review" of the team's name.

"To see it finally here and now today," Moss told 106.7 The Fan Friday of the news the team would likely be dropping the Redskins nickname. "I didn't think it would be that big. But when it comes down to it, why and (who is) playing that card, then you have to understand that this (name) is not something we can just push behind us or put under the rug. We have to basically go out there and make sure something happens."

When it comes to the name change, Moss said he doesn't have a seat at the table, but "those who are in that seat and have that opportunity to make that change have to do so."

Moss, who played 10 of his 14 seasons with Washington, said he came to that realization after contemplating how Native American's felt about the team's controversial name. He said he first realized it was offensive before a 2005 playoff game in Seattle during his first year with Washington.

"I was caught off guard when we was getting ready to load on the bus and there was so many Native Americans out there picketing and had signs about the Washington Redskins name. Never knew nothing about it," Moss told Reese Waters on 106.7 The Fan.

"I didn't know it was offensive to Native Americans," Moss said, before he added he has family members who were Cherokee Indians and he has spent time trying to learn more about his background and their lives. 

"When it comes down to what the Native Americans have experienced from Day 1," Moss told The Fan. "And this isn't new when it comes to where we at right now with this name change."

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During Washington's 2019 season, protests by Native American groups were held before the team's road games in several cities, including Minneapolis and Green Bay.

Before the game in Minnesota, leaders from the state's sovereign Native American tribal nations signed a letter arguing the Redskins name was "a hurtful reminder of the genocide of our people."

"When this name is celebrated, it is to the detriment of generations of Native American peoples," the tribal leaders wrote. "Studies have shown that exposure to these stereotypical and racist images adversely affects the self-esteem and self-confidence of Native youth, and we’ve seen this firsthand. This is one of the many reasons why the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council has opposed the use of racist mascots and imagery in sports."

One group linked the Washington football team's name to a legacy of violence against American Indians, excerpting a line from an 1863 newspaper article that used what is now the NFL team's name when offering money for killing a Native Americans: “The state reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory. The sum is more than all the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth."

The National Congress of American Indians has long lobbied to end the use of the name Redskins and urged sports teams to stop using Native American imagery and caricatures as mascots. NCAI President Fawn Sharp applauded Snyder's decision on Friday to review the team's name, writing in a statement the "moment has been 87 years in the making."

"The R-word is destined for the dustbin of history – it’s not a question of if, but when, and that time is now,” Sharp said in a statement earlier this week. “Our nation faces a day of reckoning – we can choose to perpetuate racial inequality and the marginalization of peoples of color, or we can choose to pursue a new path towards a just, righteous, and inclusive society. Removing racist and harmful words, symbols, and imagery like the Washington team’s R-word mascot is a necessary and non-negotiable first step in taking that path.”

Moss shared some of Sharp's optimism that a wave of activism may bring about more positive changes to America.

"I'm just grateful to see that the time that we are in today," he told The Fan, "things are starting to change. I'm really optimistic about our future because the generation of now, they're sticking together."

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