It’s something else at work here, starting with a franchise that already had a very checkered past when it came to race relations.
After all, George Preston Marshall, who moved the franchise to Washington in 1936, kept African-Americans off his team for a long time. Marshall’s fan base was in the South, and no way were they going to stand for an integrated anything, even if it proved an NFL embarrassment by the end of the 1950s, by which point everyone else in the league had long integrated.
It wasn’t until Marshall’s franchise moved into what was later known as RFK Stadium in 1961 that anything was done, and only because that stadium was on federal land and the government threatened to revoke the stadium lease.
So the late Ernie Davis was selected, and then traded to Cleveland for Bobby Mitchell – who had to sing “Dixie” at the team’s welcome-home luncheon at the start of his first season in 1962. Welcome to D.C., Bobby, though he did go on to a Hall of Fame career.
Given all that, is it any surprise that a man who grew up a fanatical fan of the Pro Football Team in Washington, and then would come to own the franchise, would be a tad bit resistant to all the calls to give them a new, non-offensive nickname?
But it isn’t that Daniel Snyder is against the idea. It’s how he did it, bluntly saying earlier this year that he would NEVER change the name. Even as some in the media start to refuse using the nickname in any form, Snyder remains firm in his resolve to, in his mind, preserve history and heritage.
Of course, the small problem is that the “history” and “heritage” Snyder references includes centuries of forced removal and near-genocide against native tribes, a clear record that others have cited when changing their team names.