Dan Snyder gave a rare interview yesterday when he appeared on WTEM-AM after a day spent at his NFL team’s training camp in Richmond. After spouting off some optimism about the team’s chances in the upcoming season, Snyder’s conversation with tight end-cum-radio yakker Chris Cooley turned to the ongoing criticism about the name of Snyder’s team.
“It’s honor. It’s respect. It’s pride,” Snyder told Cooley. “And I think that every player here sees it, feels it, every alumni feels it, and it’s a wonderful thing, it’s a historic thing. It’s a very historic franchise, it’s been a pleasure.”
Snyder also said that criticism of his team’s name, which most dictionaries define as a racial slur against Native Americans, overlooks the outreach he’s been making this year to native communities through the team’s new “Original Americans Foundation,” which he says has included several visits to reservations around the country.
“What I did see that got me and touched me and really moved me, and I think you know because you’ve visited a lot of reservations yourself, is the plight of Native Americans,” Snyder said. “Things that people don’t talk about. You know, it’s sort of fun to talk about the name of our football team, because it gets some attention for some of the people that write it, that need clicks, or what have you.”
Once again, Native American leaders who have been whaling on Snyder since the last NFL season took issue with the Washington owner’s latest statements.
“Washington team owner Dan Snyder’s comments are proof that he is living in a bigoted billionaire bubble,” the National Congress of American Indians said in a press release. “For him to claim that a racial slur is ‘fun’ is grotesque. There is nothing ‘fun’ about his desire to continue promoting, marketing and profiting from a term screamed at Native Americans as they were dragged at gunpoint off their lands.”
Before ending the interview yesterday, Snyder insisted again that it’s all sincere:
“And this is not PR, we don’t have PR people doing this stuff, this is really genuine, and from that standpoint, just like our foundation here locally, it’s 16 years running that we’ve been doing this. You talk about the millions of dollars this year, it’s been every year, and we don’t really brag about it, it’s not something that we’re going out doing.”
Last week, the Washington Post highlighted that the Washington Redskins have been paying for ads promoting a new Web site, RedskinsFacts.com, which supposedly sprung up organically from frustrated former players who wanted to defend the team’s embattled name, which many find offensive. (Slate turned up evidence that the Web site is tied to public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, which was later confirmed by the team.) Read the full article here.