Richard Martin

Bottom Line: Washington's Team Name Is Offensive

Created on Mar. 14, 2014 5:39 AM EST

Hypocrisy, thy name is Roger Goodell.

By plunging into the murky waters of the N-word while allowing the Washington franchise to remain the Redskins is the ultimate in the H-word.

It would be tricky enough to deal with that word if Washington had changed its name. But the NFL has proved that it’s not up to the task of moralizing about the English language.

One thing is certain about the N-word: White people must not use it when referring to African-Americans. Beyond that, well, as a white dude, I can’t presume to tell black people what language to use. I know that the N-word has different meanings, and that it can be used as a term of endearment or as a vile epithet with hundreds of years of hate behind it.

We know for certain that the word Redskin is pejorative. If you don’t think so, I suggest the following test: Go to a Native-American bar in Minneapolis, yell out “Redskin” at the top of your lungs and see what happens. Probably about the same thing that would happen if a white guy went to a black area and screamed the N-word.

Some may know that there was a poll conducted by Sports Illustrated about the use of the R-word. A majority of Native Americans were ostensibly OK with the use of the word. But Indians self-identified – that is, there was no attempt by SI to make sure that the people calling themselves Indians were indeed that. (Check out Wikipedia’s entry on the R-word.)

In any case, I feel uncomfortable about trying to ban a word from usage. It’s too much like George Orwell’s omniscient “1984.” And Goodell is too much like Big Brother in the N-word debate. He may have good intentions, but that’s not good enough.

Maybe the power’s gone to Goodell’s head. He’s making $40 million, up there in the stratosphere. The NFL’s TV revenues are in the same place.  

So let’s see if I’ve got this right. Players have to stop using the n-world. Check. But owners can keep the name of their team even if it’s considered pejorative. Wink, wink.

The big shots can do what they want. The rules don’t apply to those at the very top.