Mike Ditka has had enough with the campaign to get the Washington Redskins to drop its racially charged name.
Ditka, who made the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player and won a Super Bowl as a head coach, unloaded on critics of the team’s name during a recent interview with RedskinsHistorian.com.
The politically conservative Ditka, who bragged last year that he could have beaten Barack Obama in Illinois’ 2004 U.S. Senate race, ripped the “liberals” who have lobbied for a name change and expressed solidarity with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who has repeatedly said he won’t change the name.
“What’s all the stink over the Redskin name?” Ditka said in the interview, which was posted Thursday. “It’s so much horse shit it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin. What are you going to call them, a Proudskin? This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is.”
“Its been the name of the team since the beginning of football,” he continued. “It has nothing to do with something that happened lately, or something that somebody dreamed up. This was the name, period. I mean, leave it alone. I mean, these people are silly — asinine, actually, in my opinion.”
Facing mounting criticism aimed at the name, Snyder’s PR efforts have been dodgy at times. In May, the team encouraged fans on Twitter to deluge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), an outspoken critic of the name, with a pro-Redskins hashtag, but the effort backfired.
About a month later, the team hired liberal blogger Ben Tribbett to help stave off criticism of the name, only to see him quit weeks later after a website unearthed some tweets in which he made derogatory remarks about a Native American.
Around the same time that the team hired Tribbett, the United States Patent and Trademark Office announced that it had cancelled six of the Redskins’ trademark registrations because they “were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered.”
Ditka isn’t the only one who considers the name a tribute to Native Americans. Joe Thiesmann, a former Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Redskins, made a similar point last year.
“I was very proud to play for the Washington Redskins, and I did it to honor Native people in that regard,” Theismann said. “I think sometimes people perceive words in their own particular way.”