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Mike Ditka Is Right, The ‘Redskins’ Name Needs to Remain

Win McNamee, Getty Images

They have been the Washington Redskins since 1932, and now there is once again a movement to change the National Football League’s team nickname because it is offensive to many Native Americans.

Just this week, Phil Simms, a CBS football analyst, announced that he would not use the word “Redskins” when he works a Washington game for the network. Two of his counterparts, Mike Ditka and Al Michaels, don’t feel the same way Simms does.

Ditka, the former Chicago Bears coach and current ESPN analyst, made it clear that he has no such reservations about using the name in a recent interview with Mike Richman of RedskinsHistorian.com. “What’s all the stink over the Redskin name?” Ditka said. “It’s so much [expletive] it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian.”

Ditka went on to say “It’s all the political correct idiots in America, that’s all it is. It’s got nothing to do with anything else. Rumors have it that ESPN is considering suspending Ditka for his comments.

In June, NBC Sports play-by-play man Al Michaels told Showtime’s Jim Rome that the Redskins name debate is “nuts.” He echoed some of those sentiments Tuesday on ESPN’s Colin Cowherd’s Show.

Personally, when I hear the name Redskins, I think of brave warriors who roamed the land years ago. I don’t consider it offensive at all. As a matter of fact, the word redskin was first recorded in the late 17th century and was applied to the Algonquian people generally, but specifically to the area where Delaware is located.

“Redskin” referred not to the natural skin color of the Delaware Indians, but to their use of vermilion face paint and body paint. In time, however, the term became an unfavorable connotation, and to some has been considered offensive. In the true sense of the word it shouldn’t be offensive.

Why would someone consider Chief Illiniwek or the Bradley Brave to be offensive? The Chief’s tenure ended in 2007 at the University of Illinois because of outside pressure, and there is a movement to remove the Brave from Bradley University. Why? I am not a Native American, but I would think it would be an honor to have a team named after me or my people.

Recently members of Congress urged the Washington Redskins to change the team’s name and have sent letters to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder, Redskins sponsor FedEx ,and the other 31 NFL owners asking them to help make the change.

In June, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued an opinion saying that six trademarks registered by the National Football League’s Washington Redskins must be cancelled because they disparage American Indians. This would significantly hurt the sales of the team’s shirts, souvenirs and other materials being sold.

Daniel Snyder, by the way, has proclaimed that he will never change the name as long as he owns the team.  I say “good for him!”  If you abolish all the Indian names from American sports teams, when will you ever even think about the important role the Native Americans played in our country? Probably never. Better be careful before over-reacting. It’s not offensive.  It’s an honor!

I heard a great line about this. Perhaps we are all wrong in the way we are looking at this. Instead of the word “Redskins ” being offensive maybe it’s the word “Washington” that is offensive.

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