Dan Snyder: “We are Redskins Nation … and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage.”


Following is the full letter from Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder emailed to season ticket holders yesterday:

“To Everyone in our Washington Redskins Nation:

As loyal fans, you deserve to know that everyone in the Washington Redskins organization – our players, coaches and staff – are truly privileged to represent this team and everything it stands for. We are relentlessly committed to our fans and to the sustained long-term success of this franchise.

That’s why I want to reach out to you – our fans – about a topic I wish to address directly: the team name, “Washington Redskins.” While our focus is firmly on the playing field, it is important that 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.

Like so many of you, I was born a fan of the Washington Redskins. I still remember my first Redskins game. Most people do. I was only six, but I remember coming through the tunnel into the stands at RFK with my father, and immediately being struck by the enormity of the stadium and the passion of the fans all around me.

I remember how quiet it got when the Redskins had the ball, and then how deafening it was when we scored. The ground beneath me seemed to move and shake, and I reached up to grab my father’s hand. The smile on his face as he sang that song … he’s been gone for 10 years now, but that smile, and his pride, are still with me every day.

That tradition – the song, the cheer – it mattered so much to me as a child, and I know it matters to every other Redskins fan in the D.C. area and across the nation.

Our past isn’t just where we came from—it’s who we are.

As some of you may know, our team began 81 years ago – in 1932 – with the name “Boston Braves.” The following year, the franchise name was changed to the “Boston Redskins.” On that inaugural Redskins team, four players and our Head Coach were Native Americans. The name was never a label. It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor.

In 1971, our legendary coach, the late George Allen, consulted with the Red Cloud Athletic Fund located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and designed our emblem on the Redskins helmets. Several years later, Coach Allen was honored by the Red Cloud Athletic Fund. On the wall at our Ashburn, Virginia, offices is the plaque given to Coach Allen – a source of pride for all of us. “Washington Redskins” is more than a name we have called our football team for over eight decades. It is a symbol of everything we stand for: strength, courage, pride, and respect – the same values we know guide Native Americans and which are embedded throughout their rich history as the original Americans.

I’ve listened carefully to the commentary and perspectives on all sides, and I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name. But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too.

Consider the following facts concerning the “Washington Redskins” name:

1) The highly respected Annenberg Public Policy Center polled nearly 1,000 self-identified Native Americans from across the continental U.S. and found that 90% of Native Americans did not find the team name “Washington Redskins” to be “offensive.”

2) In an April 2013 Associated Press survey, 79% of the respondents stated the Washington Redskins should not change their name, while only 11% believed the team’s name should change.

Paul Woody, a columnist for the Richmond Times Dispatch, interviewed three leaders of Virginia Native American tribes this May. They were all quoted by Mr. Woody as stating that the team name doesn’t offend them – and their comments strongly supported the name “Washington Redskins.” Also in May, SiriusXM NFL Radio hosted Robert Green, the longtime and recently retired Chief of the Fredericksburg-area Patawomeck Tribe, who said, among other things:

“Frankly, the members of my tribe – the vast majority – don’t find it offensive. I’ve been a Redskins fan for years. And to be honest with you, I would be offended if they did change [the name, Redskins….This is] an attempt by somebody…to completely remove the Indian identity from anything and pretty soon… you have a wipeout in society of any reference to Indian people….You can’t rewrite history – yes there were some awful bad things done to our people over time, but naming the Washington football team the Redskins, we don’t consider to be one of those bad things.”

Our franchise has a great history, tradition and legacy representing our proud alumni and literally tens of millions of loyal fans worldwide. We have participated in some of the greatest games in NFL history, and have won five World Championships. We are proud of our team and the passion of our loyal fans. Our fans sing “Hail to the Redskins” in celebration at every Redskins game. They speak proudly of “Redskins Nation” in honor of a sports team they love.

So when I consider the Washington Redskins name, I think of what it stands for. I think of the Washington Redskins traditions and pride I want to share with my three children, just as my father shared with me – and just as you have shared with your family and friends.

I respect the opinions of those who disagree. 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 the years to come.

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

With Respect and Appreciation,

Dan Snyder

PS. Wherever I go, I see Redskins bumper stickers, Redskins decals, Redskins t-shirts, Redskins … everything. I know how much this team means to you, and it means everything to me as well. Always has. I salute your passion and your pride for the Burgundy & Gold.”

103 Comment

  • Sorry, but I have no respect whatsoever for Dan Snyder.

  • Oh, poor Dan Snyder and his compulsion to hang on to “tradition” and “heritage”. I wonder how far back into the storied “tradition” and “heritage” of his precious team he’d like to go? I mean, does he still want black players like RG3 to have to use “colored” bathrooms and drinking fountains at the stadium?
    Not all heritage and tradition is something worth being proud of.

    • justinbc

      I am definitely no Redskins fan, but wouldn’t that apply to almost all NFL teams and owners who love their team’s “tradition” and “heritage”? (excepting expansion teams who came into the league after segregation)

      • Sure, but the Redskins have a particularly bad record on this. They held out on having black players much longer than the rest of the NFL. They only finally integrated because the feds weren’t going to let them play in their stadium (which was fed owned).

    • It’s all so incredibly hypocritical, when you remember back when he sued the City Paper, Snyder was claiming that the illustration they used on their cover, depicting him with horns and a goatee, was somehow anti-Semitic.

    • Please go back to Pittsburgh. Thanks!

  • Being Native American is a heritage. “Redskins” is just an ethnic slur. Boo on Snyder and continued failure for the Landover Football Team.

  • Deadspin killed each of the “points” Dan Snyder made.

    • austindc

      I was just thinking that they should change the name to something that rhymes with “Redskin” to help ease the transition, and then I saw your post, and I thought the Washington Deadspins would be an awesome, badass name. Our logo could be a skull surfing on a spiral of spinning flames. Not only would it not be racist, it would be totally sweet, and they would sell even more merchandise to people who just like to wear flaming skull shirts.

      Also, as a tip to this Snyder chap, if you need to use this much ink to explain a name, you need to come up with a different name.

  • It’s interesting his message mostly harkens to the tradition and heritage of the privileged white class who have embraced a term like Redskins that otherwise means nothing to them personally. And while the term itself might have been embraced at some time by Native Americans, one can hardly point to that as justification for its continued used. At least the term Braves has positive connotations of a warrior tradition among Native American tribes. Redskins is a term with derogatory origins created by a oppressive class assigned to another ethnic group. There is a difference.

    I don’t see how embracing a tradition of white privilege is respectful of Native Americans or the bloody history they share with their conquerors. Just change the name and be done with it. There is nothing prideful about referencing the color of a group of people who were slaughtered by the ancestors of the folks who are now laying claim to this heritage and tradition.

  • did someone really get paid to write that?

  • Dan Snyder is a great believer in tradition, which is why he so dearly wants to hold onto his 22 year tradition of not going to the Superbowl.

  • Hey guys,
    Check out fansforanewtradition.com for a group organizing to change the Pigskins’ name. Sign the petition if you can!
    – NK

  • It’ a flat out slur. It’s not the name of a tribe, or “warriors” or “Indians”. It’s the equivalent of the N word. It’s a little weird for me, since my family is Native, but didn’t really celebrate it. Times were different. But my grandfather, who was the biggest football fan you’d ever want to meet, still got worked up about it. I remember him telling me to never never let someone call me that.

    Time to change Snyder. You can’t run a football team for crap, and this is just more proof of that.

  • houseintherear

    My dad, a diehard Syracuse fan and native, was talking about this the other day. SU changed their offensive mascot name decades ago, and the fans were “sooo mad” about the renaming… for like 10 minutes until no one cared anymore. Just change it already, geez!

    • justinbc

      So, in your school’s example, they would just change the name from Redskins to Reds (a la Orangemen to Orange), and everyone would just forget what it really represented?

    • What the heck is an Orangeman anyways?

      • They named it after the historical school color (Orange). Their previous team name was the Saltine Warriors, which they abandoned in the 70s. The Saltine Warrior was depicted as a Native American.

      • Orangemen were N. Ireland Protestants – generally considered oppressors by the N. Ireland Catholics – going back to King William of Orange, various invasions & Battle of the Boyne.

  • an interesting read on the etymology of the word redskin, http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002961.html

  • Good stuff from National Congress of American Indians. Let’s not forget the team’s “heritage” includes an owner that did not allow black players to play for the team for 30 years. http://bit.ly/1hEGfEi

  • I hate Dan Snyder.

    But, keep the name. Until everyone makes a big deal about the outrageous, black-face/minstrel equivalent Cleveland Indians mascot, I will find the manufactured outrage about the Redskins to be non-serious.

    Words change. No one uses “Redskin” as a derogatory word and honestly, if people stopped talking about it – no one would care. Its causing no harm and is only a focal point for people who like to be against things. American Indians have way bigger problems that need to be confronted than a football team name and an asshole team owner.

    What are all these people against the team name doing to make life better for the American Indians? Just wondering.

    • justinbc

      Agree with pretty much all of this. Give enough lawyers a cause and at least one of them will fight to the death for it, whether it makes any sense or not, because in the end they’re still getting paid.

    • No one is using it as a derogatory terms anymore. Can you venture a guess as to why that is? How many Native Americans do you know?

    • I’m an enrolled Tribal member. You have a point to a degree, but the answer to your question, for me, about there are “bigger problems” is that if Tribes can be marginalized to a mascot to the general population, do you think the issues plaguing Indian Country will be taken seriously?

      I moved to DC specifically to advocate for my people, and it is an everyday effort to educate people about what are the issues and that we are still here. That we are not just, mascots, so to speak.

    • So better to do nothing than do something small? I find that silly, although I agree that the Cleveland mascot is much more offensive. But then I don’t live in Cleveland, I live here. It makes sense that people here are focusing on it.

    • If the name were Blackskins with a picture of an African American or Yellowskins with a picture of an Asian American, pretty much no one would see the name as acceptable. The fact that you can say that Redskins is causing no harm really just emphasizes how marginalized Native Americans are in this country.

    • But people do make a big deal about the Cleveland Indians mascot. Go have a look at the wikipedia page for Chief Wahoo. I don’t think you’ll find many people who believe the Redskins should change their name, but are just fine with the Indians’ racist mascot. Most of us think they’re both offensive and should be changed.

  • I think Snyder should have to meet with some of the tribes, and when he does, he should have to start each meeting by saying, “greetings redskins.” And he should end each meeting with, “it was great to meet with you redskins.” Since it’s not an insult, he should have no problem doing this.
    And this: The highly respected Annenberg Public Policy Center polled nearly 1,000 self-identified Native Americans from across the continental U.S. and found that 90% of Native Americans did not find the team name “Washington Redskins” to be “offensive.”
    So your argument is that you’re only offending 10% of the Native Americans, so it’s ok?

  • If he wants to keep “skin” in the name, I heard an awesome idea yesterday – the Landover Foreskins. Very creative logo options for that one too. And people might actually laugh at him *less* with that name.

  • justinbc

    I am not a Redskins fan, so I have no dog in this fight regarding loyalty to the team name or tradition. For the most part, I don’t care. I know we live in ultra-sensitive times, where footballs are being removed from playgrounds because people don’t want their kids to get hurt, and you can’t say anything that could even be remotely construed as offensive, because someone will sue you for it, but this just does not pop up on my radar on the relative scale of Native American problems.
    It’s a business, if you want to protest the name then protest the associated business. Stop going to games, watching on TV (this is where the real money is), buying merchandise, etc. The only way to make businesses change is to make an impact on their bottom line, they rarely do things because it’s the “right” thing to do.

    • “For the most part, I don’t care.”
      Yet you’ve posted 5 times in less than an hour. That’s a lot of not caring.

      • Yep, justinbc has no shortage of opinions on all subjects, and spews them with authority. Whether he knows anything about the topic or not. But at least he has a cool photo.

        • justinbc

          Oh yay more ad hominem, welcome to the bandwagon.

        • He has a point if people start boycotting Poppa Johns the ‘official pizza’ of the Washington Redskins, FedEx and other big time sponsors the team name would change. I did not grow up a Burgundy and Gold fan but the players / coaches I remember and others I have come to respect from their broadcast work seem to be some of the classier guys in sports; Sonny Jurgensen, Art Monk, Darrell Green, Russ Grim and Joe Gibbs – Let that be the legacy the classy people who took the field for you and your success on the field not some derogatory name.

      • justinbc

        You apparently overestimate the amount of effort it takes to post on an internet forum.

    • That is easy to say when those most offended have no political or market power to effect change in the way you suggest. Precisely because their population was decimated by the very people who feel the need to take a strong position on this issue.

      And your statement that people are sued on the regular for saying offensive things is just nonsense. The reality is most organizations have set up disciplinary procedures for when those associated with them say things that are offensive. That is not the equivalent of litigation. Why? Because it is good business.

      The issue here is that Dan Snyder knows it does not really impact his business if Native Americans are pissed off because they have no political or market power to use to change it or influence his business. Sometimes, it would be nice for people to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Not because not doing it costs something.

      • Well stated. I completely agree.

      • justinbc

        The real problem with that argument is that “those most offended” is a really small percentage of the whole subject people the term would apply to. Given a large enough population you’re bound to find some people upset by just about anything. Does that mean you always cater to the lowest common denominator who happen to find someone else to shout loud enough for them?

        • ….I should be able to call my professional poledancing team the DC Greedy Heebs. Since Jewish people are, ya know, a tiny minority of the population. Why should I care what they think? Do you think Dan Synder would like that?
          Seriously dude, stop it. You should like one of those constantly “oppressed” conservative types who want to “TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY.” It’s unbecoming. Can you just admit to your privilege?

          • justinbc

            No, that’s a poor analogy. I did not say Native Americans are a small percentage, and therefore should not be heard. I said that OF Native Americans, it’s a very small percentage who actually find the term offensive. Before you start assigning characteristics to my personality it would behoove you to actually read what I say.

          • It’s not a poor analogy. Both ethnic groups were subject to methodical genocide, centuries of persecution, and unfair portrayal in the media.
            The point is that if you support the name “Redskins” you should 1.) have no problem saying that to a Native American’s face and 2.) be OK with any other team names based on the physical characteristics of various ethnic groups (The Blackfaces? The Slanty-eyes? Big Nose Jews? The Irish Gingers?)
            Snyder’s screed also glosses over the team’s illustrious tradition of original owner George Preston Marshall – a racist sh#tstain of the highest order. The team was forcefully integrated. That’s why you find so many Texas Cowboys fans in the DMV (one of the first teams to integrate).

          • justinbc

            It is a poor analogy because it’s countering a point that I never made. Had I said Native Americans represent a small percentage of the population and therefore we should not care about their opinion, then it would make sense. I did not however make such a silly claim, and therefore it’s arguing a point not being made.
            And, there’s obviously no way to prove this, but I would guess the majority of Cowboys fans in the DC are not basing their “team of choice” decision based on their integration history from 50+ years ago, long before many of their fanbase would have been born. It’s true the original Boston/Washington Redskins owner fought harder than any other owner against integration, but the whole league was notoriously bad at it.

        • Racist & offensive terms do not just affect the “target” group. Accepting their use by our society as a whole sets a standard of base behavior and ugliness. The playground bully may just pick on one kid, but if the whole school ignores it, there is an implicit imprimatur of cruel behavior.

          • justinbc

            I completely agree with that point. However, if the overwhelming majority of people who it’s directly tied to do not find it offensive, and many even find it favorable, then who are the outsiders to shout “you should be offended by it!”?


  • Just because it is tradition does not make it right.

  • As usual, the Onion gets it.
    “Washington Redskins Change Their Name To The D.C. Redskins”

  • If the original coach was Native American and didn’t have a problem with the name in the actual time when this word was supposedly commonly derogatory, why should anyone care now. Must be nice not having any real problems in your life to worry about…

  • Emmaleigh504

    This is why the local football team I root for is the Ravens.

    • But why did they have to name the team after a black bird? Racists.

      • You are joking, right? The team is named after Edgar Allen Poe’s Poem “The Raven”. Written in Baltimore.

    • And that actually segues into a great example of how tradition, pride, love for a football team, and lots of the other sentimental things Snyder was waxing on about are NOT automatically wiped away just because the name (or even the team itself!) might change. When I was a child in Baltimore, I remember people being devastated about losing the Colts; people mourned and treated it like it was an indelible wound to civic pride, and all that was good in football was forever lost. This went on for *years.* Fast forward a number of years later, and now Baltimore has the Ravens–new team, new name with its nod to Baltimore history and tradition, and Baltimore is every bit the football-crazy town that it used to be. Neither the NFL, nor the local franchise, nor the city, nor the fans seem any worse for the wear. Times change. People can embrace new traditions.

  • I am no skins fan
    i am also not a fan o fthe name…

    my moms side of the family is native american(Piscataway Conoy), so i feel close to this battle
    Small large whatever type of problem you call it… fact is that it IS a problem

    i dont get any of the justufucations i have seen thus far
    i dont get how we can allow a parody of a culture for the entertainment of the masses and to profit just a few

    bottom line is it is wrong and shuould be changed

    I with one of the earlier posters. have Dan adress the tibes he is meeting with the term, see how comfortable he is with the term then

  • I was a lifelong Redskins fan (since the late 60’s) until a few years ago. Personally I have no issue with the name and can see the arguments against it. But I am no apologist of Danny Boy nor the Redskins name either. But if the name was to ever change then i would offer the “Patawomecks” or perhaps Potomacs. Then the new name would still be relevant to this city, would fit well with the current trademark name without offense, plus the logo could remain.

    • I could get behind this. If you’re going to go down the historical path , celebrate the strength of the local Native Americans. The “Potomacs” would be an awesome and respectful name.

    • The Potomacs sounds like a good name!

  • Get off my football team and concentrate on your shutdown. Do you realize that there are crazy hilbillies in the house and you are worried about a mascot name. smh

    • Those crazy hillbillies in the house represent about 40% of the adult voting population in this Country and they aren’t going away just because you want them to.

    • saf

      And what can WE, residents of the District of Columbia, who did not vote for those folks and would prefer that those of you in the states would not send us those types of folks, do about it? Nothing.

      So, you go call your voting congress critters and senators. We can’t.

  • oklahoma is the choctaw word for “red people” and was suggested by a choctaw leader. just an fyi

    • Irrelevant is the English word that means “having no bearing on or connection with the subject at issue.” just an fyi

  • saf

    Just a random kvetch – “enormity” does NOT mean that something is enormous. It means that it is horrible.

    • Thank you! I spotted that right away. You can talk about the enormity of the Holocaust, but when it comes to the size of a stadium, it’s “enormous.”
      Enormity is huge + terrible.

  • saf

    The man who says that horns doodled on a picture ALWAYS mean anti-semitism says that “Redskins” isn’t always racist. Uh-huh.

    • so basically she’s angry because he’s rich and she’s not and projecting a bunch of BS onto him? wow and we’re supposed to be on HER side? NO THANKS!

  • It’s not going to change =)

  • The name needs to be changed, period.

  • Respectable DC news outlets are referring to Washington’s football team as such, without mention of the offensive name. PoP should do the same.

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