Already focusing on rehabbing his blown out knee, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III could bring about a radical, groundbreaking change to his team and its city’s sports culture.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio detailed his views on the latest rally cry for Washington to change their team name and logo once and for all Saturday, and said Griffin has the opportunity and clout to lead such a campaign.
Florio writes: “But Griffin has a unique opportunity. There’s no real downside to requesting that the Redskins change their name. Few truly believe in their hearts the name isn’t offensive. Instead, fans of the team resist changing the name because, for them, the term taps directly into their football loyalties. With Griffin becoming the player to whom those loyalties most fervently now trace, he’s the only one who can make it happen.”
There appears to be a major groundswell developing that won’t go away until Washington mayor Vincent Gray and Redskins owner Daniel Synder address the situation. Florio also points to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell avoiding the question during his "State of the League" address the week before the Super Bowl.
At the conclusion of the NFL regular season, Gray made headlines suggesting the Redskins need to address their team name, but according to the Washington Post he backed away from those comments Thursday, clarifying he meant the name might have to be changed if the club wanted to build a new stadium within the city’s limits and with approved federal funding.
In a story posted Thursday, the Post described the tension surrounding not only the Redskins but the overall use of Native Americans in sports team’s logos and names at a symposium called “Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports.” In the past, many have called the Redskins logo "racist" and "offensive" to the Native Americans.
Florio stressed the immense star power Griffin carries not only with fans, but the greater Washington community. As a rookie, Griffin lit the NFL on fire with his prowess under center and breakaway speed and placed the Redskins on the cusp of the playoffs before a serious knee injury ended his and the club’s season.
His endorsement deals with major companies like Adidas and Subway have also made Griffin a national celebrity, giving him name recognition rivaling other NFL superstars like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.