Washington Redskins helmets with the iconic red-and-gold colors and logo are displayed on the field during football training camp in 2009. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
“Let me be clear: The racial slur ‘redskins’ is not okay with me. It’s never going to be okay with me. It’s inappropriate, damaging and racist. In the memory of our Blackfeet relatives, it’s time to change the name.“ —Bob Burns
Rick Reilly—the unbuttered wheat toast of sportswriters—is going to have a grim Thanksgiving. Last month, to much media attention, the ESPN columnist wrote about his Native American father-in-law’s support for the Redskins name. This was the foundation for his article’s thesis that the only people who care about whether the team should change a name many see as gobsmackingly racist are white, politically correct ninnies. Actual Native Americans, like his father-in-law, feel honored or don’t give a damn. No one less than Washington’s Hall of Fame former coach Joe Gibbs recommended Reilly’s piece as an answer to anyone who has a problem with the Redskins name.
But alas! Karma can be cruel. Reilly’s father-in-law a Blackfeet elder named Bob Burns has now issued a statement that not only did Rick utterly misquote him, he also refused to make a correction.
As Burns writes in the Indian Country Today Media Network,
You can imagine my dismay when I saw my name and words used to defend the racist Washington Redskins name. My son-in-law, ESPN’s Rick Reilly, completely misunderstood the conversation we had, quoting me as saying “the whole issue is so silly. The name just doesn’t bother me much. It’s an issue that shouldn’t be an issue, not with all the problems we’ve got in this country.”
But that’s not what I said.
What I actually said is that ”it’s silly in this day and age that this should even be a battle—if the name offends someone, change it.” He failed to include my comments that the term “redskins” demeans Indians, and historically is insulting and offensive, and that I firmly believe the Washington Redskins should change their name.