Football writer Peter King says that he won’t let 90 percent of Native Americans change his decision not to use the word “Redskins.”
A Washington Post poll taken released earlier this month found that nine in ten Native Americans did not regard the team’s name as offensive. Moreover, eight in ten said someone calling them “Redskin” wouldn’t offend them.
“I stopped using the name because I had become increasingly bothered by using a word that some people felt was insulting,” King writes about his 2013 decision. “Even though I had expected more Native Americans would be upset by the nickname, the fact that a clear majority are not doesn’t change the fact that it makes me uncomfortable to use the name.”
Like many early NFL teams, the Redskins glommed on to the name of the local Major League Baseball team, who, at that time, played the far more popular sport. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Yankees all competed in the National Football league. The Redskins entered the NFL in 1932 as the Boston Braves in deference to their MLB landlords. When they moved a mile or so away to the home of the Boston Red Sox, the Braves kept the American Indian imagery but changed their name to the Redskins as a play on the baseball inhabitants of Fenway Park.
King, Phil Simms, Tony Dungy, and others who cover professional football vow not to use the team’s nickname despite its derivation stemming from football parasiting off baseball and not a franchise’s desire to offend. But King says he won’t force his writers to avoid the name.
“I have not dictated to anyone on our staff at The MMQB whether they should or shouldn’t use the name,” King concludes. “It’s an individual choice. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m saying this is right for me. I don’t want to use what I consider to be a societal epithet. And the results of a poll are not going to change my stance.”