Dan Steinberg did the good service of curating 40-plus-year-old newspaper clips about the Redskins name-change issue. While the material rings familiar to those following the modern debate, which is kind of the point, this bit is noticeably different.
In response to protests from American Indian groups, then-owner Edward Bennett Williams modified the more cloying lyrics to “Hail to the Redskins” and changed “psuedo-Indian” outfits the Redskinettes wore at the time. He also had this to say:
“All the reaction I’ve received on the nickname question has been unsympathetic to the protesting Indian groups. We would not carry a symbol offensive to any group. No one has persuaded me that the Redskins, as a symbol of our football team, is offensive.”
“Had I been persuaded,” Williams added, “we would have taken action accordingly.”
Williams stressed that he doesn’t have a “closed mind” on the subject.
That was 1972. Now, contrast it with what Dan Snyder told USA TODAY Sports last year:
“We will never change the name of the team. As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season.”
What if his football team loses an ongoing federal trademark lawsuit? Would he consider changing it then?
“We’ll never change the name,” he said. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
Seasons change, as do owners. The name does not.