'Redskins' Are Too Racist for Idaho, Not Yet D.C

Matt Berman

Finally, the "Redskins" nickname and mascot have been ditched. But no, it wasn't by Washington's NFL team that features phenom-QB Robert Griffin III. It was by Idaho's Teton High School, which stars kids who probably aren't as great as RGIII but probably have functioning knees.

The superintendent at Teton High School in Driggs, Idaho, made the decision as a means of getting students to "see people beyond the color of their skin" and "get to know who people are without using nicknames or assumptions based on outward appearances." The district's superintendent, Monte Woolstenhulme, dropped the name without the approval of the school board, acknowledging that he'd receive some backlash but saying, "We're moving forward with this change."

It's the kind of move that some members of Congress have been calling for in the NFL. Last month, 10 lawmakers sent letters to Redskins owner Dan Snyder, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and FedEx Chairman and CEO Frederick Smith to push for the Redskins to change their name. So far, Dan Snyder has been publicly adamant that no changes will be made, and Congress seems to be gaining little traction on the issue.

Something, however, could be afoot: Travis Waldron at ThinkProgress reported Tuesday that Republican messaging wizard Frank Luntz is focus-grouping "Washington Redskins," which means that at least someone is concerned enough about the team's image to call in outside help.

But, at least for now, Washington politicians may be stuck looking to Idaho, thinking about the way it could be.

Update (4:10): On June 5, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a letter responding to the ten members of Congress, calling the Redskins name "a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect." Deadspin obtained a copy and published it on Wednesday. You can read that here.