Mike Wise is a sports columnist for The Washington Post.
Before he lay in a hospital bed, convalescing after reconstructive knee surgery, I thought that Robert Griffin III would be the perfect person to take on a problem that’s been plaguing Washington for decades: our football team’s ill-considered, objectionable, offensive, racist, totally unacceptable name.
Fans of the burgundy and gold, don’t roll your eyes. For many Native Americans, the slur “Redskin” is just as offensive as the N-word. When I visited the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in 2007, a man named Leonard Littlefinger told me that if I walked into a bar on the reservation and said “Redskins,” I would possibly be knocked unconscious.
And the issue is gaining new attention: This past week, Washington Post columnist Cortland Milloy excoriated the name in a column, and Mayor Vincent Gray said that if the Redskins want to return to D.C. — they’ve played home games in Landover since 1997 — they might have to lose the tomahawks.