The Cleveland Indians announced Monday that they will no longer use their polarizing Chief Wahoo logo after the 2018 season, but that doesn’t mean the Washington Redskins’ controversial nickname is going anywhere.
Team owner Dan Snyder has ignored pleas from Native American groups who believe the name and logo are racist, and as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told ESPN Radio on Tuesday, ‘I don’t see him changing that perspective.’
The Indians began using Chief Wahoo as the team logo beginning in 1947, but after Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and team owner Paul Dolan discussed the issue extensively in recent years, it was decided to remove Chief Wahoo from the team’s uniform and logo.
Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder (left) isn’t going to change his team’s controversial nickname according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (right)
Washington Redskins fans cheer during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedExField
Native Americans and other citizens taking part in the protest against the Redskins team name
Not only did Goodell back away from calling for Snyder to change the nickname, but he went so far as to characterize the Redskins owner as a friend of Native Americans – many of whom have publicly supported keeping the name in place.
‘The interesting thing is that Dan Snyder has really worked in the Native American community to understand better their perspective,’ Goodell said during the Golic & Wingo show. ‘And it’s reflected mostly in a Washington Post poll that came out [in May 2016] that said nine out of 10 Native Americans do not take that in a negative fashion, the Redskins’ logo or the Redskins’ name, and they support it.’
The study that Goodell is referring to claimed nine out of 10 Native Americans were not offended by the name.
To many Native American groups, however, the name remains wildly offensive.
The Change the Mascot campaign has been a long-standing critic of the Redskins’ name, but Snyder has resisted calls to change his team’s nickname and logo.
‘The Cleveland baseball team has rightly recognized that Native Americans do not deserve to be denigrated as cartoon mascots, and the team’s move is a reflection of a grassroots movement that has pressed sports franchises to respect Native people,’ Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter, who is the leader of the campaign, said in a statement Monday.
‘Cleveland’s decision should finally compel the Washington football team to make the same honorable decision,’ he continued. ‘For too long, people of color have been stereotyped with these kinds of hurtful symbols – and no symbol is more hurtful than the football team in the nation’s capital using a dictionary-defined racial slur as its team name.
‘Washington Owner Dan Snyder needs to look at Cleveland’s move and then look in the mirror and ask whether he wants to be forever known as the most famous purveyor of bigotry in modern sports, or if he wants to finally stand on the right side of history and change his team’s name. We hope he chooses the latter.’
The Supreme Court ruled last year that a trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes on free speech rights. Prior to that, the United States Patent and Trademark office had tried to revoke the Redskins’ trademark because it was a racial epithet.
In 2016, Snyder wrote an open letter in which he responded to the Post’s poll.
‘The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride,’ he wrote. ‘Today’s Washington Post polling shows Native Americans agree. We are gratified by this overwhelming support from the Native American community, and the team will proudly carry the Redskins name.’
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred (left) has been critical of the logo in the past. After some back and forth, Indians owner Paul Dolan (right) finally agreed on Monday
Philip Yenyo, left, executive director of the American Indians Movement for Ohio, talks with a Cleveland Indians fan before a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, in April last year
(Left) Chief Wahoo has changed since first being designed in 1947. (Right) In 2019, the Indians’ only logo will be the ‘C’ that currently appears on their batting helmets and alternate uniforms
Cleveland Indians slugger Edwin Encarnacion returns to the dugout after scoring in a game against Seattle in September. His batting helmet is emblazoned with the red letter ‘C’