Wednesday, August 05, 2020

THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: There’s classy franchises — then there’s Washington’s NFL club

| July 15, 2020 1:14 AM

Let’s say you owned an NFL franchise.

Yeah, I know…

You’d sell it tomorrow and go live an untroubled life on your own Caribbean island.

But back in the real world, you’ve still got this NFL team because you’re a titan of industry, or you’re lucky enough that your daddy was born before you were, or maybe you’ve acquired boatloads of money some other way.

In any event, you’re rich.

Really rich.

Your pro football team is your identity. It’s how people know you — not because you invented some widget that made gazillions of dollars.

No, you ARE your team.

And vice versa.

Now then, wouldn’t you want to have a franchise in a great city, in a fabulous part of the country, with neat uniform colors so your team looks great on TV, and…

Your team would have a terrific name, something that is perfect for your community and your region.

Like, say…


ON THE other hand, you could be all wrong.

Disastrously, bone-headedly, tragically, thoughtlessly, miserably wrong.

For instance…

Washington Redskins.

No, it hasn’t been a problem for the team’s first 87 years, because the former owner was a flat-out racist, and for some reason, you personally are so tone-deaf that you don’t understand that there’s anything wrong with insulting Native Americans every day.

You think…

“Hey, the Cleveland Indians do it in baseball. For years and years, they had a logo that was such a hideous caricature of the entire Native American culture, it was a joke — but nobody cared.”

In fact, you think (but don’t say aloud), that making fun of the people who inhabited this country long before any white man is just fine.

Red people?

Being the butt of jokes is their role in our lives, right?

They’re a comedy act, and we can use hilarious drawings or comments to amuse ourselves at their expense — pretty much whenever the notion suits us.

This is especially true right now, because a Black man was murdered by a cop on video, and a hell of a lot of Americans seem truly angry about it.

So those jokes about Black people have to go in the closet.

But, hey, calling a football team “Redskins” — like John Wayne in a cowboy movie — that will still be OK because whatever red people are still left in America have been shuttled to reservations somewhere out West.

They’re in the middle of nowhere, so you don’t see the problem.

You’re Daniel Snyder, and…

You are an idiot.

WE KNOW now that Snyder will change the name of a team that represents our nation’s capital.

He didn’t want to do it.

For years, he swore that he would NEVER do it.

He’s either a racist or a moron — or both.

(This is only a side note to the real issue, but Snyder has managed to put together such crap teams every year that visiting fans at Washington’s home games quite often outnumber home supporters — and in pro football, you have to WORK at being that bad.)

Meanwhile, many of the country’s largest corporations — giants that have some financial ties to a team that is quickly alienating millions — have told Snyder to change the Redskins name.

Or else.

Is there a bigger hammer than money?

In this case…


The NFL privately has told Snyder that if he insists of sticking with Redskins, then he’ll have to go.

Disgraced owners HAVE been forced out in the past — Cincinnati’s Marge Schott, the Clippers’ Donald Sterling and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson all were forced to sell for the sin of, well…

Just being basically awful people.

Snyder should be pushed into that same slimy well.

Native Americans have been treated disgracefully for this nation’s entire history, and the U.S. government has broken pretty much every treaty it’s ever signed with our First People.

HERE AT a time when we’ve woken up to the reality that #BlackLivesMatter, America should likewise now accept a reckoning and self-examination over its treatment of Native Americans.

The notion that we haven’t done anything about the name “Washington Redskins” for nearly a century is beyond embarrassing.

Did you know that the great warrior Geronimo spent the last years of his life selling autographs to tourists — just to scrape out an existence?

He had been confined to a reservation in Oklahoma by the government.

What was then the U.S. War Department even paraded Geronimo around at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

Disgraceful isn’t even a strong enough word.

It’s time we ALL take a knee.

While we do, by the way, why not use just a moment in appreciation of the admirable people in professional sports ownership?

In a sports-crazy country, these folks command an incredible presence in our society.

And not everyone fumbles the ball like Daniel Snyder.

Go ahead and feel a little pride in the Seahawks, by the way.

If you’re not familiar with the non-stop community work done by the Seattle ownership, read a little about the Paul G. Allen Family Center — and the passion that the late owner’s sister, Jody, has brought to the trust since Paul died in late 2018.

The trust has done amazing things to combat homelessness, and lately, funds and time have been directed toward fighting the Covid-19 epidemic.

Sounds corny, but I’ll say it anyway…

The Seahawks are winners, right from the top.


Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns appear in The Press on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “Moments, Memories and Madness,” his reminiscences from several decades as a sports journalist, runs each Sunday.

Steve also writes Zags Tracker, a commentary on Gonzaga basketball, once per month during the offseason.