The Washington Redskins' owner, Dan Snyder, has to this point been pretty clear in his responses to those urging him to change his team's name: It will, he has said, NEVER happen.
But now he's reaching out to fans — well, season ticket holders, at least — and stating his case in more human terms.
"I was born a fan of the Washington Redskins," he wrote in a letter that season ticket holders began receiving today. "I still remember my first Redskins game. Most people do. I was only six, but I remember coming through the tunnel into the stands at RFK with my father, and immediately being struck by the enormity of the stadium and the passion of the fans all around me."
It's a more sympathetic tone from Snyder, but does tone matter at this point? Twice, he says he is listening to those arguing for a change — but gives no indication that he's considering change. Snyder cites a poll by Annenberg of self-identified Indians that many debate observers have criticized, and he also cites the anecdotal evidence of an article in which Virginia Indians said they were Redskins fans. Snyder also says that the logo on the Redskins' helmets was designed with input from the Red Cloud Athletic Fund, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
"We cannot ignore our 81 year history," Snyder says in conclusion, "or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans [who are against a name change] throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name 'Redskins' continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come. We are Redskins Nation and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage."
To read the full text of the letter, see "Letter from Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to fans" at WashingtonPost.com.