What Dan Snyder has said in the past about the Redskins name

Ben Krimmel
July 03, 2020 - 2:02 pm

In a stunning statement Friday, the Washington Redskins announced they would be conducting a "thorough review" of the organization's name in a move that will likely result in the team dropping the name Redskins, a name many consider a racist slur.

"In light of recent events around our country and feedback from our community," the statement began, "the Washington Redskins are announcing the team will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name."

Owner Daniel Snyder said the "process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise" but also get input from "alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community." 

This is a huge reversal from the Redskins and Snyder, which came on the heels of one of the team's main sponsors asking them to change the name because the organization had been so adamant he is against changing the name.

Here is a brief and select history of his recent comments on the matter:

May 2013

In an interview with USA TODAY Sports, Snyder said: "We will never change the name of the team. As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it's all about and what it means."

"We'll never change the name," he said. "It's that simple. NEVER — you can use caps."

October 2013

In a letter to Redskins season ticket holders defending the name.

"We are Redskins Nation," Snyder wrote, "and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage."

"That's why I wanted to reach out to you — our fans — about a topic I wish to address directly: the team name, 'Washington Redskins.' … It is important you hear straight from me on this issue. As the owner of the Redskins and a lifelong fan of the team, here is what I believe … and why I believe it."

"I want them to know that I do hear them, and I will continue to listen and learn. But we cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name 'Redskins' continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in years to come."

August 2014

When asked by ESPN, what is a Redskins?

“A Redskin is a football player,” Snyder said. “A Redskin is our fans. The Washington Redskin fan base represents honor, represents respect, represents pride. Hopefully winning. And it’s a positive. Taken out of context — you can take things out of context all over the place — but in this particular case, it is what it is. It’s very obvious.”

“It’s what the name actually means,” Snyder said. “I would like people to know the history. Whether it’s Lone Star Dietz, whether it’s Walter ‘Blackie’ Wetzel in Montana, it’s just historical truths. And I’d like them to understand — as I think most do — that the name really means honor, respect.

“We sing ‘Hail to the Redskins.’ We don’t say hurt anybody,” Snyder went on. “We sing ‘Hail to the Redskins, braves on the warpath, fight for old D.C.’ We only sing it when we score touchdowns. That’s the problem, because last season we didn’t sing it quite enough, as we would have liked to.”

Ed. Note: According to Native American organizations, William Dietz, an early coach of the franchise, false identity as an American Indian and was exposed in a federal court proceeding and an extensive FBI investigation.

Related:

May 2016

After a poll from The Washington Post indicated there was support from nine out of 10 Native Americans say they do not find the name Redskins offensive.

“The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride,” he said in a statement. “Today’s Washington Post polling shows Native Americans agree. We are gratified by this overwhelming support from the Native American community, and the team will proudly carry the Redskins name."

Ed. Note: The Post's poll has been questioned by further research. 

June 2017

After the Supreme Court ruled that federal trademark registrations may be granted even if the name is considered derogatory, Snyder celebrated the decision.

“I am THRILLED!” Snyder said, via an email from the team's PR department. “Hail to the Redskins.”

December 2017

In response to an activist group creating a fake news story through social media that alleged the team had changed their name to the Washington Redhawks. The team released a statement saying it won't be changing their name.

Native American Groups

Native American groups, like the National Congress of American Indians, have long opposed the name and lobbied for its removal.

The NCAI has said, "despite the team’s arguments to the contrary, the R-word is not a term of honor or respect, but rather, a term that still connotes racism and genocide for Native peoples and for all others who know of this history and recognize that it is wrong to characterize people by the color of their skin."

"The use of the R-word as the name and mascot of the Washington National Football League team is offensive and hurtful to American Indian and Alaska Native people and causes direct, harmful effects on the physical and mental health and academic achievement of the American Indian and Alaska Native populations, particularly youth," according to the NCAI. 

NCAI President Fawn Sharp said the change is a long time coming. 

“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," Sharp said this week. "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.”

After the team announced the decision to conduct a review, Sharp said in a statement, "NCAI looks forward to immediately commencing discussions with the league and team about how they will change the team’s name and mascot, and a prompt timetable for doing so. Indian Country deserves nothing less. The time to change is now.” 

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