The Redskins’ resurgence has District politicos once again talking about what it would take to relocate the team back inside the city limits. But Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) today suggested there would have to be a controversial prerequisite to any stadium deal: a name change, or at least discussion of one.
As Courtland Milloy reminded Washington Post readers today, the Redskins moniker has been under fire for decades for being, plainly, a racial slur. The team, under the ownership of both Jack Kent Cooke and Daniel M. Snyder, has resisted making a change.
“I think that if they get serious with the team coming back to Washington, there’s no doubt there’s going to have to be a discussion about that,” he said after a news conference, “and of course the team is going to have to work with us around that issue.”
Gray noted that many sports team — including the Washington Bullets — have discarded offensive names and/or mascots.
“I think it has become a lightning rod, and I would be love to be able to sit down with the team … and see if a change should be made,” he said. “There’s a precedent for this, and I think there needs to be a dispassionate discussion about this, and do the right thing.”
The mayor did not go so far as to call the Redskins name a “dealbreaker” but he did obliquely reference that the federal government, not the District, ultimately controls the land on which RFK Stadium now sits and on which a replacement football stadium would most likely be built.
Recall that the Redskins, under avowed racist owner George Preston Marshall, did not field a black player until 1962, after Interior Secretary Stewart Udall threatened to deny the team the use of what would later be named RFK Stadium unless it integrated.
Could a future federal official pull a Udall and threaten to keep the Redskins off federal land unless they changed their name? That would indeed be a dealbreaker.
READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: Redskins name change should be discussed, Vincent Gray says.