Signing linebacker Reuben Foster, released earlier this week by the San Francisco 49ers for alleged domestic violence, opened up the Washington Redskins to collateral media attacks on their team nickname. ESPN Around the Horn commentator Kevin Blackistone, USA Today For the Win writer Steven Ruiz and others couldn't resist the temptation to take swipes at the Redskins' nickname while blasting the team for signing Foster.
Blackistone, speaking to the Foster signing on Around the Horn on Wednesday, spoke as a fan of the team his family has followed for decades:
"I don't view it kindly. I'm going to say this as not a journalist but as a fan ̶ someone who grew up in this town and a family that had season tickets to this team for over 50 years and you know what, my joy in this team has just been sucked out. First, there is the obstinance and arrogance on the team's nickname. ..."
Also speaking on Around The Horn, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times said of the Redskins: "They are the most tone deaf organization in professional sports."
Ruiz emptied a bagful of grievances he has with the Washington team, much of it devoted to the issue of the Redskins' name, which many liberals want changed. "That the Redskins, a team that has dealt with a number of PR nightmares over the last decade, are the ones to make the move is incomprehensible," he writes of the Foster signing:
"Or maybe it isn’t. This is a franchise with a long history of apathy toward issues that don’t concern white men.
"The team name is a racial slur that it won’t change because, you see, it was actually meant to honor Native Americans and definitely not to reduce an entire group of people to a mascot for a football team. ..."
Ruiz also blasted team founder George Preston Marshall, "a man whose Wikipedia page features a 'Racism' section, ..." and who was the last NFL owner to sign black players.
In finishing his review of all the Redskins' sins, Ruiz noted the well-deserved criticism the team received this year when cheerleaders complained they were pressured to pose for topless for stadium suite owners on a visit to Costa Rica. And he criticized the team for refusing to sign Colin Kaepernick after starting quarterback Alex Smith recently suffered a season-ending knee injury.
"Kaepernick would have been an ideal replacement," Ruiz vented. "The Redskins offense had been built around the run game, which had been boosted by the threat posed by Smith’s mobility behind center. Kaepernick’s presence would have allowed Washington to continue to run such an offense. Instead the team opted to sign Mark Sanchez, who is not particularly effective when running, or passing, the football."
And finally, San Francisco Chronicle editorial page editor John Diaz tweeted: "As if its clinging to a racist nickname weren't a sufficient insult to humanity ..."