Daniel Snyder, the owner of Washington’s professional football franchise, Tuesday told NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that he would not consider dropping the team’s “Redskins” name, according to the Washington Post.
Snyder and Goodell reportedly met in New York ahead of the league’s Wednesday meeting with the Oneida Nation and other Native American groups, which along with political leaders and media outlets have reignited the issue of Washington’s name this year. Oneida requested a meeting with league officials during a public conference about the name in Washington this month. That conference took place right outside the NFL owners meetings.
According to the Post, the meeting was aimed more at letting Snyder tell the league how he planned to deal with the controversy around the team’s name, not about changing it specifically.
Goodell has previously defended the name as a symbol of “strength, courage, pride, and respect” in response to a letter from members of Congress asking him to consider a change, but in September he eased his position, saying that the league had no choice but to acknowledge the controversy and consider the issue if the name offends even one person.
Long an issue isolated to Snyder and Washington, the name controversy is quickly becoming a league-wide issue. The federal lawsuit challenging the name’s trademark threatens all owners, since the league splits merchandising revenue evenly among all 32 teams. That means losing trademark protection would affect the bottom lines of the league and all of its teams, not just Washington. And in recent weeks, Oneida and other groups have taken the fight outside of the capital, running ads in New York and Dallas and staging protests at Washington’s road games in places like Green Bay and Denver.
Making it a league-wide issue is a smart strategy since it somewhat forces Goodell’s hand and puts the commissioner, who is intent on “protecting the shield” from any controversy, in a tough position. The upcoming meeting between the league and Native American groups is only an extension of that. Goodell and the league still seem in favor of keeping the name — the Post report that this was a fact-finding mission of sorts only adds to that feeling — but it would seem that at some point this could turn into an issue Goodell no longer thinks is worth the headache it causes, especially as it continues to affect other teams. He has insisted all along that this is Snyder’s issue and Snyder’s issue alone, but as badly as he wants that to be true, he and his brand are now a part of this debate — and he’s the only person other than Snyder who has the power to end it.