RICHMOND — The Washington Redskins are proud of their nickname, and they don’t plan on changing it amid intensified criticism.
General manager Bruce Allen on Thursday cited the team’s history and benign intent in defending its nickname against claims it is racially offensive.
“I’m proud to be the general manager of the Washington Redskins,” Allen said. “We represent an iconic sports franchise that’s 81 years old, that involves millions of fans worldwide, that has thousands of alumni. It’s ludicrous to think in any way that we’re trying to upset anybody.”
The long-running controversy surrounding the nickname recently resurfaced as a topic of media coverage and commentary ahead of a hearing next month in the latest lawsuit to strip federal trademark protection from the name.
The team is not considering a change, Allen said.
“There’s nothing that we feel that is offensive, and we’re proud of our history,” Allen said. “To suggest that players and coaches and fans are thinking any other way, it doesn’t make sense.”
Several Native American groups, including the National Congress of American Indians, recently intensified their public criticism of the nickname.
Allen said that in the early 1970s, the president of the NCAI, in conjunction with members of the Red Cloud Athletic Fund, requested the team change its logo to the current American Indian head from the “R” that was featured on the team’s helmets.
Allen addressed reporters at a formal groundbreaking ceremony for the team’s new training camp facility in Richmond. The Redskins this summer will host training camp away from team headquarters in Ashburn for the first time 2002.
Allen discussed a variety of other team-related subjects:
• He said the Redskins plan to establish an in-season schedule for re-sodding the playing surface at FedEx Field to avoid the worn-out surface that drew widespread criticism from players and league officials at the end of last season.
“Once the schedule comes out [in April], our people are ready to commit to a schedule so we have some new sod for the end of the year,” Allen said. “But obviously it’s not going to grow. We’re not in Florida. But we think that is going to address the playing field in December and, hopefully, January.”
Installing artificial grassy turf is not an option, Allen said. Coach Mike Shanahan strongly favors playing on natural grass.
“There’s plenty of things we can do, but now is not the time [to publicize them],” Allen said. “And I know you guys are a little frustrated that we’ve been saying that for almost a year now. But the time is coming up.”