Thursday proved difficult for the public relations arm of the Washington Redskins.
The team urged its fans on Twitter to stand up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who’s repeatedly shredded the team’s nickname in recent months, but the plan backfired. Far from a public show of solidarity, many responses to the tweet included mockery of the clumsy PR effort or criticism of the racially charged nickname.
But that wasn’t the only pratfall for the franchise. USA Today reported that “[i]intermediaries” for the team invited a leader of a small Nevada tribe on Thursday to join Redskins owner Daniel Snyder at a media event in Washington next week.
Joseph Holley, chairman of the Battle Mountain Band of Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians, informed the National Congress of American Indians that he declined.
In a statement provided to USA Today, Holley said that a team representative called him “out of the blue” and asked what he thought of the Redskins name.
“They did not tell me what the meeting was about, what I would be doing or who else was invited and wanted my answer in just a few hours,” he said. “My answer was no. I’ve got responsibilities to my community and members here at home and can’t be running off to D.C. at a moment’s notice to meet with a football team to do who knows what.”
It’s another clumsy bit of damage control for the team, which has faced growing calls from political leaders this year to change its nickname. When Snyder unveiled an “Original Americans” foundation in March, it was met with ridicule by Reid, who said the owner wanted to “throw a few blankets to the Indians and get a tax deduction for it.”
Reid was one of 50 senators last week to send a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell calling on the league to eliminate the Redskins name.