Published On: Mon, Jun 16th, 2014

Even Comedian John Oliver Can’t Get Dan Snyder to Change the Washington Redskins’ Name

NFL owner Dan Snyder is standing by his team’s name in spite of the controversy.


Houston Texans v Washington Redskins


Dan Snyder, the owner of the National Football League’s Washington Redskins franchise is standing firm on his refusal to change the team’s name. This in spite of increasing controversy and calls from many people to do so as the name is considered to be a racial slur towards American Indians.

Just yesterday, comedian John Oliver attacked the team on a segment of his weekly news roundup program called Last Week Tonight, which airs Sunday nights on America’s HBO cable channel.

Oliver played a recording of an ad on the issue which had aired during the NBA finals and then said “Wow. For the average American, that ad should tug at one-sixteenth of your heart strings and make the rest feel extremely guilty. The strongest possible pushback you can have after watching something amazing like that is, ‘Yea, but eh, you’re right. You’re right. We’ve got to change the name. You’re right. You’re right.’”

But apparently Mr. Snyder does not share Mr. Oliver’s sentiment.

Imagine if a professional sports franchise somewhere in the world adopted Jews as its mascot and called itself the “Big Noses” of the “Money Grubbers.” What if a team did the same thing towards Blacks and called itself the “N Words”? This is the analogy made by people who feel that the Redskins should change their name.

Mr. Snyder, however, dismisses such analogies. He cites studies which he has commissioned which prove that the team’s name is not really offensive to Native Americans. Snyder has even announced the establishment of a foundation that will try to make life easier for impoverished Native Americans.

The owner has also formed a lobbying group to defend the Redskins’ name and stands by the comments which he made a year ago in which he said, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER.”

Some commentators believe that Snyder won’t change the team’s name because he is a lifelong Redskins fan who grew up in Maryland. They believe that people like Snyder are so attached to the name that they simply cannot conceive of it having a different one.

Imagine the response if the iconic sports franchises the New York Yankees or Manchester United were to change their names.

But there is a precedent for a team to change its name even when it does not change cities. In the 1990’s the NBA’s Washington Bullets altered their name to the Wizards in response to the growing problem of gun violence in that city.

Joel Barkin, a spokesman for the Oneida Indian Nation, which opposes the Redskins name said, “I think what a lot of people that oppose the nickname see with Snyder is that so much of him is wrapped up in that team. In many ways it defines who he is. To him, giving it up means giving up a piece of himself. That’s how we see it.

“With Snyder, that brand, even though the name is racist, that brand means everything to him. I think Snyder feels, ‘This team meant something to me as a child. My connection to this team is worth more than you, an American Indian, being offended.'”

With a net worth of $1.2 billion, Dan Snyder first started out when he founded a wallboard advertising company with his sister in 1989. The company later became Snyder Communications LP which expanded to include all aspects of outsourced marketing, including direct marketing, database marketing, call centers and field sales.

Snyder bought the Washington Redskins and FedEx Field in Virginia for $800 million in 1999.


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