The Washington Post’s Mike Wise made an intriguing prediction in his column on Monday: “Robert Griffin III is not going to retire an ‘R’ word.”
Wise, who attended the Change the Mascot press conference in Washington, D.C., yesterday, said that changing the Washington football team’s name is not a matter of if, but when.
“The debate over whether a people are denigrated or honored by the name of the Washington NFL team, like the absurd debate over whether the name is a unifying force, is over,” he wrote.
Wise predicted the team will change its name in “five years tops” arguing that Dan Snyder, the team’s owner, has to eventually yield to public pressure.
“The question is how long before Roger Goodell or any of the NFL commissioner’s brightest lawyers deem that a prolonged public assault against the name becomes financially hazardous to the league’s future. Just when is the tipping point?”
Wise said that tipping point came yesterday, with reports that NFL officials had reached out to the Oneida Nation, which sponsored Monday’s press conference, to schedule a meeting with the group.
“They know that we’re not going away,” said Ray Halbritter, CEO of the Oneida Indian Nation, who, according to The Post, called a meeting with the NFL “a move in the right direction.”
Brian McCarthy, vice president of communications for the NFL confirmed to Time that a representative from the NFL is scheduled to meet with members of the Oneida Nation on November 22nd.
But Wise noted that the NFL, via Adolphus Birch, its senior vice president of labor policy, has asked that the November 22 meeting date be moved up, and he extended an invitation to come to the Oneida’s reservation in Verona, New York.
“Think about that: The NFL, which has spent tens of thousands of dollars defending the team from American Indian plaintiffs seeking to strip its trademark in court for the better part of two decades, has offered to go to the res to talk,” Wise wrote.
Next, Wise said that Commissioner Goodell and “others” may be tired of Snyder’s “cold brazenness toward the offended” and that “they simply can’t take his tone-deafness on the issue anymore” because its bad business.
“When a billionaire takes a position as a bully instead of at least acknowledging the people who are offended, then he starts to lose what middle ground remained.”
It is, Wise said, a signal that the matter is being taken out of Snyder’s hands, and “the first clear indication that the name is eventually going down.”
There is no word if Snyder will attend the meeting, but Halbritter said that the Nation would welcome his participation.
Wise also noted that President Obama’s stand on the issue tipped the scale further in favor of his five-year prediction. Obama said that if he were in Snyder’s shoes, he would have to “think seriously" about changing the name if it was offensive to a sizeable group of people. It was the first time a sitting president had weighed in on the issue.
Wise’s most significant point was his nod to the growing group of Americans who are speaking out on how offensive the team’s name is. “It’s not the Oneida Nation, the Cherokee Nation or any one of 450-plus federally recognized sovereign peoples. It’s called the world’s tribe, and it is bigger and infinitely more powerful than an 80-year-old fan base and its idea of ‘tradition.’”