In his continued quest to defend the name of his NFL franchise, billionaire Daniel Snyder seems to be disagreeing not just with some Native American groups and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but also dictionaries. In an interview with ESPN's John Barr on Tuesday, Snyder presented his own personal definition when asked, "What is a Redskin?"
"A Redskin is a football player. A Redskin is our fans. The Washington Redskins fan base represents honor, represents respect, represents pride. Hopefully winning," Snyder told Barr in a segment of the interview released at ESPN.com on Tuesday. "And, and, it, it's a positive. Taken out of context, you can take things out of context all over the place. But in this particular case, it is what it is. It's very obvious."
WATCH SEGMENT OF INTERVIEW ABOVE
In the portion of the interview released by ESPN on Tuesday, Snyder seemed to only discuss the term as it related to his football franchise. The online editions of the Merriam-Webster and Cambridge dictionaries, meanwhile, describe it as a "usually offensive" and "offensive" term referring to Native Americans, respectively. But Snyder told Barr that he views it as a term of honor and respect in the interview that will air in full during an upcoming episode of "Outside The Lines, according to ESPN.com. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office agrees with the reference guides, describing the term as "disparaging to Native Americans" in a recent decision that canceled six federal trademark registrations connected to the team's name.
Snyder, 49, offered a similar defense of his franchise's name and logo during a radio interview on ESPN 980′s “The Drive" on Monday. In addition to attempting to prop up the status quo, Snyder contended that he is more attuned to the issues facing Native Americans than media members covering the controversy surrounding the name and iconography of his football team.
"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. But reality is, no one ever talks about what’s going on on reservations, the fact that they have such high unemployment rates, health care issues, education issues, environmental issues, lack of water, lack of electricity," Snyder told former Washington player Chris Cooley, who conducted the interview, via The Washington Post.
CLICK HERE for full transcript of interview
Executive Director of National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Jackie Pata and Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter released a scathing statement in response to those remarks on Monday, claiming that “Washington team owner Dan Snyder’s comments are proof that he is living in a bigoted billionaire bubble."
“We are certainly glad to see that after decades of silence, Mr. Snyder suddenly has an interest in the plight of Native Americans," Pata and Halbritter said in their joint statement. "Some of the money he recently spent was for burgundy and gold parks adorned with the very mascot and epithet that Native Americans are imploring him to change. He doesn’t understand a simple fact: No matter how much of his fortune he spends trying to convince the world that slurring people of color is acceptable, it is not. The more he clings to this racist epithet, the more he walks in the footsteps of his predecessor the segregationist George Preston Marshall, who originally gave the team this hideous name. If Mr. Snyder truly wants to help Indian Country then he could provide financial support, while at the same time ending his callous use of this racist epithet that hurts Native Americans.”