Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder broke his silence by writing a letter to fans defending the team’s nickname.
According to Annys Shin and Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, “Tens of thousands of fans and season ticket holders began receiving e-mails from Snyder on Wednesday, four days after President Obama added his voice to the decades-long debate over the team name.”
Obama said if he were the team owner, he’d “think about changing” the team’s name if it “was offending a sizeable group of people.”
One of the more emphatic lines of Snyder’s letter reads,”The name as never a label. It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor,” per the Washington Times.
Here are some excerpts from his letter:
“I’ve listened carefully to the commentary and perspectives on all sides, and I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name.
“But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskns family, but among Native Americans too.
“So when I consider the Washington Redskins name, I think of what it stands for. I think of the Washington Redskins traditions and pride I want to share with my three children, just as my father shared with me — and just as you have shared with your family and friends.
“I respect the opinions of those who disagree. I want them to know that I do hear them, and I will continue to listen and learn.
“But we cannot ignore our 81-year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country.
“After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins’ continue to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.”
Within hours of the letter’s release, Ray Halbritter of the Oneida Indian Nation responded in a letter of his own addressed to Snyder.
Part of it reads:
“In his letter, Mr. Snyder made mention of his team’s history. He opted to omit from his letter, however, that the original owner who gave the team its current name was an avowed segragationist.
“That suggests the team’s name was deliberately designed to denigrate people of color. Unfortunately that ploy was successful. The marketing of this racial slur has had — and continues to have — very serious cultural, political, and public health consequences for my people and Native Americans everywhere.”
Halbritter concludes his letter by inviting Snyder to join the NFL delegation in an upcoming meeting with the Oneida Nation families.
He then tells Snyder that he “can then hear directly from them why that term is so painful.”