Mark Schlereth wanted to know what makes a nickname. The former Redskins lineman asked if it embodied the “spirit” of a team. Schlereth, like practically everyone else Monday, had an opinion about the news that Washington will retire its name and logo following the conclusion of its ongoing internal review.
His question was rhetorical.
“You can name the Washington Redskins whatever you want to name them,” Schlereth said in a video posted to Twitter. “It doesn’t matter to me. Because the spirit of Washington is in the men and women who have sacrificed to make that organization great.”
For some, Monday’s announcement was greeted with relief and even exultation as years of campaigning against a name many found offensive finally paid off. For those who grew up rooting for the team, for whom the name is a connection to memories of glorious Sundays past, the day was decidedly more bittersweet.
But even former players like Darrell Green and Rick “Doc” Walker agreed it was time for a change. Appearing on ESPN’s “NFL Live,” Green said he applauded owner Dan Snyder for making the decision.
Speaking to ABC 7, former quarterback Joe Theismann said he doesn’t have any regrets about donning a Redskins uniform. But he said he was “excited” for the change, and wanted to look forward.
“The name was around for 87 years, which is all now a part of history,” Theismann said. “But I think that what we’ve proven with the new name of the Washington football franchise is that we need people to take action on the things that they want to get done. There’s so many things socially that people talk about doing … but we’re not really getting the results.
“In this case, I hope the Washington name and the change that’s taking place can be an example to people.”
Other alumni like Jeff Bostic and Mark Moseley weren’t as excited.
Moseley, in particular, said he was disappointed the team “gave up the fight.” He said he felt bad for American Indians, who were “losing” representation of their people. Moseley added he had met with hundreds of American Indians who he said had no problem with the name.
“It’s a travesty with what’s going on,” Moseley told ABC 7. “It’s just another part of it. … These radicals now once again are going to jump up and down and holler and scream, ‘We won, we won!’ They haven’t won a (darn) thing. All they’ve done is hurt the Native Americans. I hope they’re happy.”
There are many in the American Indian community who agree with Moseley — a 2016 poll showed just one in 10 American Indians found the term offensive — but the activists pushing sports teams to drop American Indian imagery have momentum on their side.
Amanda Blackhorse, the lead plaintiff in the 2006 trademark case against the team’s name who is also a member of the Navajo Nation, said the imagery is offensive and hurtful.
On Twitter, Blackhorse chimed in with her own thoughts on Monday’s news — calling it a “monumental day.” But she stopped far short of praising Washington for taking action.
“To be clear, I’m not thanking Dan Snyder for today’s move nor will I thank FedEx or other folks complicit in racism toward Indigenous people for so long,” Blackhorse tweeted. “The wounds are still deep and fresh. The Washington teams statement was the most insincere statement ever and its clear, they’ve not learned anything about racism and their part in all of it.
“Still we are not mentioned in the statement, still we are ignored and pushed aside. To think they’ve had a change of heart is … too much. I don’t want an apology, I want action.”
ESPN analysts like Max Kellerman and Michael Wilbon also took issue with Snyder. Kellerman blasted Washington’s statement as “garbage,” saying that Snyder was acting like a child doing something he did not want to do.
On “Pardon the Interruption,” Wilbon said the press release was “tone-deaf.”
Even the unexpected are voicing their thoughts.
“How does the @NFLWashington Red Tails sound ?” tweeted ESPN’s Dick Vitale.
Somehow, thankfully, Vitale did not suggest the Washington Babies.