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Tramel's inbox: Emails on Clint Chelf and Redskins name

by Berry Tramel Modified: November 6, 2013 at 8:30 pm •  Published: November 6, 2013

The hot topic in Berry Tramel's inbox this week? Clint Chelf.
The hot topic in Berry Tramel's inbox this week? Clint Chelf.

Time for more emails, and there’s plenty of topics. Lots of people weighed in on Clint Chelf and the Washington Redskins. Let’s get right to it.


Don: Stoops was a little testy in yesterday’s press conference. You are absolutely correct. No question that the Big 12 presents challenges like never before. Stoops was in defensive mode yesterday. Parity is here because of reductions of scholarships put in a few years ago. Facilities upgrades for most of the Big 12 have upped the ante also. I like Bob Stoops, but reality is that it is much harder today than ever before to win championships! Your line of questioning was right on point.”

I don’t know if it’s harder or not. OU’s just not doing it as much. That much we know.

Isaiah: Curious your thoughts on how long Bob Stoops would stay at OU.  Not that I think he will leave anytime soon, but given his comments about trying to maintain a work/life balance for himself and for his coaches, I don’t think he would be an NFL head coach. Hearing him talk about the demands of being a college coach and his description of an NFL coach’s possible schedule, I now don’t see him leaving for the NFL. I imagine he has talked to Steve Spurrier about his experience, as well as other people around the league about the grind an NFL head coaching job is.  Do you imagine he will stay a long time at OU?  I certainly know that president Boren and Joe C. won’t ever tell Bob to leave, but I don’t see Bob ever leaving OU for the NFL.  Now it’s just a matter of how much longer he’ll be around. Does he want to leave on a high note or when his kids are through high school?”

I agree that Stoops isn’t likely for the NFL. Now, he could get his fill of coaching, but I don’t see any signs of that just yet. If I was guessing, I’d say Stoops would stay in Norman at least through his kids getting out of high school. His twin sons are in middle school. So that’s another five years or so.

David: “The Sooners’ most dreaded disease is the crippling acquirement of the Three and Out. It was well demonstrated against Texas. Best drive and consistency emerged in the long drive against Texas Tech, keeping the Raiders off the field. You think that’s a winning formula?”

I think it’s the only formula against Baylor. Run the ball. Control the clock. Keep Baylor’s offense on the sideline. Frustrate Bryce Petty. I see no other way to win.

Johnny: What is the status on Kendal Thompson?  Is he over his injury or is he still rehabbing? And what about Cody Thomas?  I know he is redshirt, but I was wondering what you think his future potential is. Starter in a year or two?”

Thompson is ready to play. I have no idea about Cody Thomas and I would be stunned if anyone else did either.

Melvin wrote about Big 12 titles being harder or easier in recent years to win: “Harder or easier? With Nebraska, Missouri and Texas A&M gone?” 

It’s a valid point. Parity has come to the Big 12, but when solid football schools like Mizzou, A&M and Nebraska leave, you’d think OU and Texas would clean up even more. But no.


T.J.,: “Glad you don’t coach. ‘Putting Chelf in against Tech is the wrong decision.’ Brilliant! As usual, you look like a complete ass.  Keep your day job. Don’t go into coaching!”

Actually, playing Walsh would have been the proper move against Tech. I would keep Chelf this week, because Chelf played well against Tech, but a few things to remember. 1. Chelf still completed just 53 percent of his passes against Tech. 2. Chelf was the beneficiary of a new tailback and a cohesive offensive line. Against Iowa State, OSU went to Des Roland at tailback, plus had some continuity with the line for the first time. Chelf still played poorly. Things came together against Tech.

Bill: “How about an apology to Clint Chelf??”

For what? I didn’t say anything wrong. I said Walsh should start at Tech. And I’m not convinced I was wrong.

Nikki: “I think it is awful the way that you bash this young man. I have read your articles for years now and you seem to have a very negative edge to your writings, especially toward Mike Gundy. I have even noticed this attitude in many of your OU articles also. I suggest that you take a step back and read some of your pass articles and review your style of writing from previous years. I enjoyed them then but do not now. There has been a long time rumor that you had some issues with the Gundy family years ago. Is this still an issue with them?  Do you take it out on some of his players because you do not like the Gundy family? I feel very sorry for the Chelf  kid because of your negative writings about him. This is twice that you have lashed out on him in the newspaper. . He seems to be the best quarterback that OSU has at this time. He seems to be doing his best and working hard trying to make this team successful! Why do you keep pounding this kid over and over again with your words? Maybe you are just getting old like the rest of us and need to work on being more upbeat now. Take a look at yourself, Barry. If you are struggling with negative issues in your life, there are some great medicines out there to help you.  Try it. You might like yourself more. Maybe your readers will like you again.”

I’ve got no problems with the Gundys. I’ve been writing about Mike since 1984. His old man gets mad at me from time to time, but I don’t pay any attention to it. Here’s what I like. Quarterback who complete passes to their own team. That’s why I favor Walsh over Chelf. And as for that old part, speak for yourself.

Bob: “Do you think Clint Chelf is back and for real?”

I think Chelf is about like he’s always been. He can make some plays. He also can get you beat.

Fred: “OK! What you got say now about Clint Chelf? How he was the wrong move, I believe he proved he can compete with the best QBs. Not the greatest QB at OSU but can get the job done when needed!”

Here’s what I’ve got to say. Where were all you Chelf supporters before the game? Know how many emails I got before the game, chastising me for saying OSU should go with Walsh? Zero. Zero. There was no faith in OSU or Chelf. None. I don’t listen to yapping from people who think they’re soothsayers because they wait until after the game is over to say what should have been.

Michelle: “Obviously you are so blatantly anti-OSU that you cannot even report your own statistics correctly!  According to your own stats, Chelf has twice completed MORE THAN 70% of his passes in his eight career games; one game in which he had more than 77% completed passes!”

Do you guys understand my lot now? Chelf has completed more than 59 percent of his passes twice in eight games, and that’s supposed to be a sign that he’s the proper choice at quarterback. We’ve got a lot of educating to do.

Paul: “You do not owe Clint Chelf an apology for suggesting J.W. Walsh start or at least play significantly against Texas Tech, due to his below average passing abilities. He still has below average passing abilities, (see two picks, 1 for 6), but he is one thing you did not mention, unflappable. The kid makes a costly mistake and he’s contrite on the sideline but his body language never changes. Just go back out and try again. Honestly I still think he is learning the nuances of reading defenses. Pretty late date to do that but he still has very mixed game experience. Some NFL QBs take several years at the outset of their careers to learn to properly read a defense. Chelf doesn’t have the arm or savvy to make it in the NFL, but he is passable (pun intended) for a college QB. Roland is the best downhill runner I have seen at OSU in many years. Not as fast as DeMarco Murray, or strong as Adrian Peterson, but the kid gets some of the same results as those two great ‘north-south ‘ runners.”

Actually, not only did I refer to Chelf’s unflappability, I used the exact word “unflappable.”

Greg: “You’re wrong on the OSU QB situation. Chelf should have started all along.  Now, he has to work out the cobwebs.  The Cowboys have no chance with Walsh…nada, none, zippo, zero. With Chelf, OSU has a fighting chance.  Actually, I think OSU is going to screw up a lot of things.  I believe Tech (in Lubbock) will defeat Texas and OSU will finish them off in Austin.  They will be massacred in Waco.  Good bye Mack.  An interim will coach a bowl game.”

Give Greg credit. He wrote this email before the OSU-Tech game. I can respect that. But UT-Tech is in Austin, not Lubbock, and that game comes after OSU-Texas.


Chris: “My opinion is that the Thunder is wise to avoid the luxury tax this season because doing so would make it more difficult to re-sign Kevin Durant. If the Thunder became a tax paying team this season, they would face the repeater tax after the 2015-16 season. That’s the same time Durant’s current contract expires. I believe he’s less likely to stay in OKC if it looks like those next four years will be dedicated to rebuilding. If the Thunder waits until next season to go into the luxury tax, when it comes time to re-up, Durant knows he has at least one more season with Westbrook, Ibaka and Adams. Those are four players you can, hopefully, win a ring with. I think Sam Presti is wiser to make that argument.”

This seems clear. The Thunder is headed for the luxury tax next season and the year after. The repeater penalty, which is really punitive, kicks in if you go into the tax three times in four years. So the Thunder is wise to stay out of it in 2013-14.

William: “Does Sam Presti draft better than he trades? Sam trades good for draft choices. But when it comes to trading for NBA horse flesh, no thank you. I’d rather have Jeff Green at this point over Perk. KD fell in his lap. He drafted Russell Westbrook, Serge, Harden.. He drafted too smart with Harden; couldn’t afford him in Stockyard City.  People continue to second guess that choice. It’s not Brooklyn and Prokhorov, it’s OKC and Bennett. He knows what the small town market will bear and how deep Clay Bennett’s pockets are. Stick with drafting, that’s his forte.  Sam could use a good Lieutenant in the front office…a counter weight. I’d already trade in Perkins for Steven Adams.  I’m amazed that Scottie is giving him playing time. He never gives rookies playing time. Maybe his hand is being forced?”

Wait a minute. I know Perkins is becoming damaged goods, and his days are numbered. But do you have any idea how good that trade was? The minute Perkins arrived, OKC’s culture changed. All that talk about defense became actuality. The Thunder became an NBA contender because of the Perkins trade. 


Bernie: “Reading your blog regarding the Ames, Iowa, trip, it occurred to me that Montana and North Dakota State have been dominant teams at the Division I FCS level for years. North Dakota State is currently ranked No. 1. Why do you think teams like Minnesota, since you mentioned St. Paul, and Iowa State have struggled so much at the FBS level to reach success? Just cannot recruit enough speed from the southern tier of states to the American north needed to compete at the FBS level? Interesting to think about the FCS and FBS success differences in the American north.”

Hmm. That’s worth thinking about. Yes, Iowa State and Minnesota have struggled. But Ohio State and Michigan have flourished. Yes, Alabama and LSU have dominated. Mississippi State and South Carolina, not so much. So I looked at all the I-AA champions. North Dakota State twice in a row, Eastern Washington, Villanova, Richmond, Appalachian State thrice in a row, James Madison, Delaware, Western Kentucky, Montana, Georgia Southern twice in a row, UMass, Youngstown State, Marshall, well, that’s enough. A good cross section of north and south. Moreso than in I-A. Maybe speed is the reason.

Tivis: “When you see certain sports teams, you always know what their uniforms will look like.  Everyone knows what the Oklahoma Sooners. New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Alabama Crimson Tide and Texas Longhorns will be wearing.  But it is a surprise every time you see the OSU Cowboys, Baylor Bears, Houston Astros, Oregon Ducks, Maryland Terrapins and others as far as their uniforms.  Does it have something to do with some being traditional winners and some, maybe, not being such traditional winners?”

It has everything to do with recruiting ballplayers. The younger generation loves the contemporary looks. I think you’ll see the Oklahomas and the Alabamas going more and more in that direction.


Don: “Hope OSU has convinced you by now with the Texas Tech dominance. They are peaking at right time! Every week improving, especially since Roland’s running and offensive line are coming together. The quarterback’s iffy, but has great leadership. Chelf has passed Walsh because of leadership and running ability. Great team and coaching leadership as well. Defense solid and getting better. I was impressed with the physicality of this team on both sides of ball. Let’s hope OU wins Thursday and have two Oklahoma teams in the running.”

It certainly was a big-time performance in Lubbock. Maybe the Pokes are peaking. However, I don’t think Chelf is playing over Walsh because of leadership. I think Chelf is playing because of arm strength.

Tim: “One thing I noticed besides the superior offensive line play against Tech (every play, just about, we knocked them off the line), is that Glenn Spencer and the defensive coaches make really good halftime adjustments. Against the better opponents, note the two halves point differential.”

OK, I noted it. Throwing out the Lamar and Texas-San Antonio games, OSU has outscored foes 98-48 in the second half. Iowa State and Texas Tech, particularly, have been second-half dominations.

Del: OSU’s recent record in Texas and vs. Texas schools looking dominant. Since 2010, games in Texas and/or against Texas schools: 17-2. Conference road games in Texas since 2009: 9-1. Overall vs. A&M, Texas, Baylor, Tech and TCU since 2009: 15-3.

I love this stuff.

John: “I know the Cowboy fans are beating you up a bit after the weekend’s articles, but I’m one fan that appreciates your candor and unbiased reporting. I’ve always felt the biggest problem with the offense is not necessarily the QB but the tweaks and changes in either routes/QB reads or something to do with getting away from the detail of the Holgorsen offense. Way too many throws to the wrong spot, broken routes, poor timing, etc. I saw it vividly in the spring game and had concerns. This was not as evident against Tech because of the run game success, but against better fronts I still have my concerns. Have to give the coaches and players credit for great adjustments and a really nice win that not many including myself really expected.”

Ah, an admission that a win was not expected in Lubbock. That’s good. That’s really good. I, too, wonder if they’ve gotten away a little much from the Holgorsen offense. It’s possible the answer is no. It’s possible that what you did with Brandon Weeden, you can’t do with others. That’s a good one to keep an eye on.

Greg: “Good article tonight giving Chelf praise, when your last article was saying Walsh should be the QB. Not ripping on you. I didn’t see this performance coming either. But game balls should go out to Glenn Spencer and the defense. Bill Young’s firing looked like a wise move then and tremendous move now.”

Spencer is doing a heck of a job, there’s no doubt about that.

Edward: “Just checked into my hotel from the game today and read your article re Chelf.  As a Sunday morning QB, I don’t disagree too much with what you wrote.  What irritates me the most about you and most (all??) OKC media is your constant measurement of teams on how they play OU.  You guys didn’t give us a chance because the Red Raiders played your vaunted Sooners head up last week.   Earth to Berry and all other OKC media, this isn’t the 1970s, and your Sooners are an average to good team in the top 25.  And so are the Cowboys.  Coach Gundy has the Pokes playing at a higher level.  I will say based on what Chelf was able to accomplish today, (leading his team to a huge win in a hostile environment) he was very impressive. Oh, and I can’t wait to see Thomas Lott, the Selmons, and Little Joe Washington, lead by Cecil Cemara, venture into Boone Pickens this year….Oh wait – this is 2013.  Silly OKC press.”

Silly OKC press? How about silly fans who have a 2×4 stuck up their butt. The reason everyone picked Tech to win was not because Tech played OU tough, but because OSU’s offense had been mediocre all season. I think OSU will beat OU in Stillwater this season. But before Cowboy fans get too fancy-pantsed, remember that OSU has beaten OU once in the last 10 meetings. That’s the same ratio as in the ’70s.

Ron, talking about a small contingent of OSU fans in Lubbock: “I wouldn’t be to hard on them for this trip. I know Tech grads that won’t even go to games in Lubbock because of the way their fans treat visitors. There was some of that on Tech’s trip to Norman even.”

Tech students have that reputation. But I didn’t know it applied to all Tech fans.

Danny: “I don’t blame OSU fans for not going to Tech. I went a few years ago and don’t care to go back. They are the worst hosts I have ever seen. No telling what they would be like if they won. They rank right up there with Mississippi State baseball fans. If you don’t know about them, ask Gary Ward.”

Do you realize it’s been 26 years since the Anthony Blackmon incident? The OSU centerfielder dropped his pants and mooned Mississippi State fans, who had been hurling racial slurs at him during the NCAA Mideast Regional. We’ve come a long way.

Bill: “College football is not my specialty, but your article made me wonder.  Who made the worse decision this year about the OSU quarterback position:  Lunt or Gundy?”

Gundy. Letting Lunt leave because his future wasn’t clear? Horrible decision. Lunt clearly had the most upside of the three OSU quarterbacks.\


David: “I’ve been sitting on the fence with regards to the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins and the movement towards name change.  So much of what passes for people being upset today is hyperventilated political correctness –everyone is insulted by everything.  But your article has allowed me to see it for what it is and it is hard to argue otherwise.  And, yes, just because something always has been doesn’t make it forever acceptable.  Perhaps as a nation of people, we are maturing and learning to be more sensitive to the feelings of others. It is now the time to change the name.  Thanks for the excellent article which gives us better “insight” from both you and Mr. Tsotigh.”

Don’t worry. The detractors are coming.

Bill: “By your logic in saying the name Redskins is an inappropriate name for an NFL football team, I suggest you should be just as indignant about the name Oklahoma Sooners. After all, the Sooners were criminals who illegally jumped the gun for the Land Run. So shouldn’t we be ashamed of idolizing a football team the goes by that name. If that isn’t enough, we should be even more ashamed of the name Oklahoma. After all, it’s translation in Choctaw means ‘red people.’ So we are guilty of being politically incorrect with the demeaning state name of Oklahoma, certainly nothing we should be proud of. Being ‘nudged’ into being politically correctness is simply giving way to the people and ideology whose goal is to control people’s minds.”

Is that the best you’ve got? Rather than discuss the issue of whether Indians are being degraded, turn it into this kind of nonsense?

David: “Susan Shown Harjo of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has been quoted as saying, ‘the use of ANY stereotype in the portrayal of Indians is considered … to be contributory to their dehumanization and deracination.’ The Washington Redskins are just the beginning, Mr. Tramel. If Daniel Snyder caves, how long do you think it will take Native American advocacy groups to go after the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Blackhawks or the Golden State Warriors? Although they would never admit it, I suspect the owners of the before mentioned franchises hope that Snyder doesn’t relent because they know they’ll be next in the crosshairs! Besides, how much do you feed the beast of hyper-sensitivity and political correctness?”

You’re probably right. The Braves and the Blackhawks probably hope the Redskins keep their name. If there’s a team out there called Redskins, someone else is at the front of the line.

Yenna: “Thank you for you column concerning the Washington Redskins football team and your stated opinion on the subject.  However, I find it ironic that an individual with such deep roots in Oklahoma would inject themselves in an argument over a perceived offensive nickname given to a private organization.  The very meaning of the word Oklahoma coming from the Choctaw language means ‘Red People.’ Is the term ‘Redskin’ somehow equally or more offensive than ‘Red People?’ Is it that when one hears the term ‘Oklahoma’ they don’t immediately think of ‘Red People.’ Perhaps the state gets away with veiled racism because the offensive name is disguised by a foreign language.  Maybe Washington could simply disguise the ‘Redskins’ nickname using a foreign language like Spanish.  The team could call themselves the Washington ‘Piel Rojas.’ That doesn’t sound nearly as offensive.  I would suggest you lead the way in Oklahoma by demanding the state as a government entity, change their offensive name before making like demands on a profitable private business.  For the record, I am neither a supporter or fan of the Redskins nor the State of Oklahoma.”

Piel Rojas. I like it. I like it a lot.

David: “The state’s name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning ‘red people.’ Bit ironic that a sportswriter from Oklahoma would comment on other people using the words red skin.   People who live in glass houses, etc, etc. You also forgot to mention that before each and every Florida State University home football game, a half naked Caucasian dressed like a clownish Seminole Indian rides a horse to midfield and throws a spear into the ground.    Not only does the Seminole Tribe not complain about this insensitive performance, but believe it or not, the Seminole Tribe of Florida actually condones it. Max Osceola, the chief and general council president of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, has stated that he regards it as an ‘honor’ to be associated with the university.”

I didn’t mention it because I didn’t want to write 50,000 words on the subject, which I could have. I have written about the Seminoles/Florida State relationship, which is a huge point of contention in the Indian community. But all this Oklahoma/red people argument. Please. Come up with something better.

Ryland: “Thank you for writing the opinion piece on the use of the above word. I was born in 1949 so I have had the opportunity to see things change in word usage as you stated. When I was young people who were ignorant called me blanket ass, chief (I am not one ), redskin and other offensive names. When people ask me now why I am offended, I try and explain but am sometimes met with ‘that’s stupid.’ I finally started doing this. It is like calling an African American a N… That sometimes gets their attention. It would be nice if the African American football players in the NFL and college would join in the protest.  My great grandfather, war chief Tabananica (hears the sun rising ) was a prisoner of war of the United States and was locked up in Fort Marion, Fla., for 14 years. He gave my family our Comanche name. It is not Redskin. Thank you again for focusing attention on this very offensive name.”

That’s what is known as a primary source.

Chance: “No mention of the Wynnewood Savages in today’s article? I think you could make the case that nickname is much worse and degrading than ‘Redskins’ has ever been. Any thoughts?”

I agree. I didn’t want to take on every issue, but I completely agree.

Kurt: “But when did you think it was offensive?  Not until the ‘I’m offended by everything’ crowd told you, right?  I have an aunt named Gay who is 80.  No one thought that name was offensive until the homosexual crowd co-opted the word.  Sometimes old definitions are just old and need to be redefined.”

I thought it was offensive 20something years ago. That’s when I first wrote a column about it. I think it was at the Norman Transcript. I worked there until 1991.

Pat: “My Webster dictionary says a Redskin is ‘an American Indian.’ No more no less. Maybe your dictionary is a politically correct addition.  As a certified American Indian, I find nothing offensive in the name Redskin unless that redskin is a robber, thief, murderer, etc.  I suggest you look in ‘your dictionary’ and look up ‘Caucasian Sportswriter.’ You might find ‘noun, a honkey without ownership or investment poking their nose into other peoples business.  Often a characteristic of having the need to fill up space with nothing to write.’”

I promise. The more my detractors talk, the better they make my case.

Eric: “I disagree with your assessment on the Redskin name. You failed to mention that the term was derived by the Indians themselves to delineate themselves from the white man. It was a term of pride for them. The term was not a white man’s term used as a slur. You forgot to mention that or you didn’t do your research. It’s obviously a name of pride for the Redskins, and always has been. It’s saying they’re tough, brave. It’s not a slur. How many teams call themselves disparaging names? Oklahoma Idiots?  Dallas Dummies? You may find a few silly names, but very, very few disparaging nicknames are out there. All you’ve really done is fall in line with activists that are trying to guilt our ‘white society’ into feeling sorry for them, when the truth is that the term is a term of pride. Most of their race agrees with that. It’s the easy way out just being an appeaser. Lame on your part, and an intellectual copout.”

Here’s where Eric is wetter than a car wash. Redskin is not a source of pride. And here’s how you know. Like I wrote, the term is out of use except as a mascot for a sport team. Chief? Brave? Even warrior? We still use those terms. No one – Indians, whites, no one – uses redskin. No one. It’s not a source of pride. It’s a racial slur.

Doug: “I found it interesting that after reading your article this morning, I watched the Today Show. They were interviewing all the stars from the new movie Last Vegas. One subject that they talked about was ‘political correctness’ because Hallmark took out the word ‘gay’ in ‘don we now in gay apparel’ to ‘don we now in fun apparel.’ They all agreed Hallmark was basically being stupid. Morgan Freeman also made an interesting comment. He said we HAVE gone too far with PC and gave the example that suddenly he is called an ‘African’ as in African American. Mr. Freeman said, ‘I’m not African. I am not from Africa.’ I could not possibly care less about WashingtonDC’s team changing their team name or not changing their team name, but I am tired of everyone forcing political correctness down my throat. We have gotten so thin skinned in our society, it’s ridiculous.”

The biggest problem with political correctness is when people use it as an excuse to never change anything. It becomes an automatic fallback position. Oh, that’s just political correctness. The same kind of thinking was used to fight against women’s suffrage and civil rights and all kinds of issues. It wasn’t always called political correctness, but it always was about the same thing. Keeping the status quo.

Gary: “My name is Gary Pratt, and I am the Chairman of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma. I would like to thank you for your concern and article. Thank you for acknowledging the fact that Redskin is a racial slur and is unethical and unacceptable in today’s society. It is a subject that has long been detested by our people,  yet our voices seem to go unheard by those of higher authority. Let’s hope and pray the governor, and representatives from our state government, have read your article, and receive the motivation to go out and make a difference.”

Glad to help

Paul: “Your commentary today is spot-on.  Offensive = Offensive.  Change the name. But I want to approach the debate from a biological prospective. From the time of Aristotle, Linnaeus, Darwin, etc., critical thinkers were trying to put all of life into some manageable box to make sense of nature.  For example, Canis lupus  is a wolf.  Canis familiaris is a domesticated dog.  Within any species of life, there will be shown some differences = Unique and Distinct.  All of life which is critical for survival.  Biologists have a hard enough time to put all of life into a simple box.  The idea that race is even used is crazy regarding Homo sapiens and out of the realm on biologists. Is there a difference between a German Shepard and a Poodle?  Yes….but they are the same species capable of interbreeding = they are the same.  When is the last time you heard someone in the grocery store ask what race of pepper (Capsicum annuum) you bought.  Bell Pepper, Jalapeno, Cayenne???  These plants are in the same species, just unique and distinct. So to make a distinction among humans (i.e. Redskins, Polish Americans, etc.) is not logical from a biological prospective. I had fun talking about leeches in my class this week.  Maybe the Washington Redskins can rename themselves the Washington D.C. Leeches (all pun intended).”

I think we’ve stumbled upon an intellectual. Who knew they existed in this forum?

Stan: “As usual, great read this morning. In total agreement with you. When you said …”I’d give you examples, but it’s not even decent to list them,”  I really, really wish you could have. But part of the irony of the subject is that due to our nation’s history,  you would have been castigated for just giving a few examples, where I, as an African American, have no such burden….at least where disparaging names concerning us are concerned.  Can you imagine the uproar names like the Douglass Jigs, Coons, Spear Chuckers, etc. would have caused?  It’s an issue the resolution of which is long overdue.”

It is interesting that the use of such words has made discussion more difficult. I guess that’s not a terrible tradeoff. I’d rather talk around such words than have to hear them in regular conversation.

Jim: “Your column was spot on. Want to get the name changed?  Challenge the tax free status of the team. Change the name or lose their non-profit status.  An organization that is formed solely for the purpose of playing professional football should not enjoy tax free status while it’s very name incites bigotry and slander.”

Do the Redskins have tax-free status? I’m no expert. But that’s basically what the NCAA has done, threatening various status for schools that won’t change nicknames perceived to be offensive.

Nick: “No argument – the term Redskin is defined as disparaging and offensive.  But a couple of questions come to mind. 1. The Washington NFL team has been the Redskins since 1932. So why has the controversy boiled to the top now? 2. Are we now going to go after all the collegiate and high school sports teams with American Indian names? There aren’t many collegiate teams left with these kinds of names, but Wikipedia lists too many high schools with American Indian names to count.  They are broken down by specific names and 91 of them are Redskins.   Looks like this argument will continue forever.”

I don’t know when the Redskin debate started, but like I said, I know it’s at least 20 years old. Wouldn’t surprise me if it was much older than that. I actually cut the Washington Redskins much more slack than I do colleges and high schools. Snyder is a free enterprise businessman. He can do whatever he wants. A public high school or university should be held to higher standards.

Jeff: “Loved your piece on the Redskins and completely agree with you.  I think we could start right now and right here by getting the Daily Oklahoman journalists to stop using the term from here on out and simply refer to them as ‘Washington’ in their articles.  And tell everyone what you’re doing and why.  What do you think?  Would the paper’s leadership support/stand behind this?  If you’re serious, I challenge you with this next step.”

Interesting idea. The Portland Oregonian, San Francisco Chronicle and Kansas City Star, I’ve been told, have taken that step. It might be a good idea. On the other hand, the biggest impact would be if networks engaged in the practice. The trouble is, the networks and the NFL are contractual partners, so that would be dicey.

Bill: “Been waiting a long time for you to weigh in on the issue. Thanks for your article today. Yes, you’re right.  Some names are fine.  Lots of people can be Warriors, Chiefs, and Braves. It’s those like “Savages” or those with caricatures like Cleveland’s. With those, I say, ‘Keep the names.  Just change the image.’ How long would the names last if we replaced the image of any other ethnic group?  Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and yes, even Whites.”

I’ve long wondered why some teams held onto the imagery. For instance, OCU, which changed from the Chiefs to the Stars back in the ‘90s. OCU could have kept Chiefs, just change the imagery. Lots of people are chiefs. Not just Indians in full headdress.

Mary: “As the mother of two children (adults) who are Native American, I thank you for your article.  They both hate the name.”

Actually, the whole debate is silly. Redskins? Really? In 1943, maybe. In 2013, you’ve got to be kidding.

Greg: “I think there is one angle your story failed to address. If American Indians are so offended by the name Redskins, would it not make sense that they (and other like-minded people) would pool their funds and make Daniel Snyder an offer to purchase the team? Then, they could change the name to something they find more suitable. Seems like too often, people enjoy standing on the sidelines and telling everyone else how to run their own business, but run away from the opportunity to ‘put their money where their mouth is.’”

Daniel Snyder wouldn’t sell.

Jacob: “I appreciate your support in recognizing the outdated notion that this racial slur in some way ‘honors’ our people.  I know you will get some flack from those who say that we are overly sensitive, but your statement will draw support from rational American Indian people who recognize that, by taking one step at a time, we might begin to eradicate those symbols of bigotry that seem benign on the surface but lead to other more insensitive and inappropriate stereotypical images of our people.  You have taken the moral high ground and that could lead to other more impactful changes as progress continues to change our attitudes.  As Dr. King stated, the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”

One step at a time. Those might be the most important words in that email.


by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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