With Commissioner Roger Goodell indicating that the NFL will continue to listen to concerns about the Redskins name and conceding to Congress that “reasonable people may view [the issue] differently, particularly over time,” the closest thing the Packers have to an owner has shared his two cents on an issue that ultimately could cost Daniel Snyder (or some future owner) a lot more than that.
“I don’t know if there is any way you can change Redskins,” Packers CEO Mark Murphy told WSSP-AM on Tuesday, via Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The owner, Dan Snyder, has come out very strong that he will never change the name. But I am sensitive. It’s a name that’s very derogatory to a lot of people.”
That last part represents a clear break from talking points that insist the name honors the culture and heritage, and that no one should view it as offensive because the NFL and the Redskins say it isn’t offensive — presumably even if someone gets drunk at a concert and shouts, “I will fight every Redskin in here.”
Murphy played for the Redskins, and he was a member of the team’s first Super Bowl-winning roster. He also has experience dealing with mascots that could offend Native Americans.
“When I was the athletic director at Colgate, their nickname was the Red Raiders,” Murphy told WSSP. “At some point in time, there was an Indian mascot. That went away. They kept the Red Raiders name. We studied it long and hard, got a lot of complaints, particularly from faculty on campus. But eventually changed it to just Raiders.”
The issue isn’t going away, no matter how loudly those who don’t want to change the name try to shout down those who would have the gall to point out that the word, through the passage of time, has become problematic. Murphy’s comments represent the strongest acknowledgement yet by anyone connected to the NFL that the debate is fair and appropriate.
And so the debate will continue until the name is changed. And it will continue after the name has changed. And the issue will be part of the NFL for a lot longer than the name has been.