- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2014


There is a long line of people joining the chorus of public outcry about the name of the football team that you love. It stretches around the block, down the street and up the hill. Entertainers, politicians — even former players from the football team that you love have called for the name to change.

HBO is devoting comedy segments to the name of the football team that you love. I would say it has become the subject of national debate, but the only national debate seems to be how anyone can possibly believe that the name of the football team that you love isn’t a racial slur.

What’s wrong with those 80 percent of Native Americans who aren’t offended by it?

July 4th will be coming up soon, and you can be sure if you are getting together with family members from various parts around the globe, one or more will ask you how you can love that football team with the name that is so offensive to so many Americans — who obviously have been fighting for decades for the health and welfare of Native Americans, and surely will continue to do so.

That’s the offensive part in the Washington Redskins name debate — the hypocrisy of people perfuming their righteous vanities who couldn’t have cared less about the plight of Native Americans before they were told they should be offended by this name, and who will go back to caring even less if and when the name is changed.

Actually, I should amend that to when the name is changed.

It’s going to happen, and I suspect that it is going to happen sooner than later — and not because of the court decision about the Redskins trademark.

There was a nuclear overreaction over the disputed decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration because the name is “disparaging to Native Americans.”

I hope the Red Mesa High School Redskins on a Navajo reservation in Arizona — where nearly 100 percent of the students are Native Americans — got that memo.

Nothing has changed as a result of the board’s decision — the same one it made in 1999 and was overturned four years later. The team is still doing Redskins business with the Redskins name, and, no, you can’t start a Redskins Dry Cleaners or some other venture.

But you would have thought this was Little Big Horn — with the Redskins on the losing side — by the attention the ruling received.

Which is why, if you want to keep the name, you should be worried. The overreaction is a signal that the world is rooting against you — and they’re not going to change their minds, no matter how much you try to argue about the lack of support among the large majority of Native Americans to change the name of the team.

The movement behind the name change this time is better organized and funded than ever before — so much so that they convinced 50 U.S. senators to sign a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell urging him to force the Redskins to change their name. That’s not a couple of representatives from Guam and American Samoa.

At some point, this movement will likely take the next step — into corporate boardrooms and pressuring sponsors.

But there’s something else going on here that will contribute to the name change: fatigue. Redskins fans are going to tire of being the target of shame and ridicule. I mean, it was bad enough when it was about how the team played. Now it’s about the very name of the team.

NFL owners are going to tire as well of the attack, which is not going to go away no matter what some federal appeals court rules. In this age of social media, you can throw a stone in a pond every day and watch it become a tidal wave.

Players are being asked about it. Robert Griffin III will find himself facing questions about it more and more. At some point he may want to know why his image is being damaged by his association with the team that, fairly or unfairly, has become the national litmus test for decency.

I mean, Howard Stern is against the name, for crying out loud.

“It obviously is an offensive name,” Stern told Fox Sports. “I mean, the team is still going to be there. Even if it was like the Washington Reds, or something, I don’t know. … It’s just like, give these American Indians a break. Their entire history has been obliterated. Their entire ancestry is gone … have a heart.”

Howard Stern is the canary in the coal mine. If he’s offended, you are fighting a losing battle.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com

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