The Washington Redskins—who are quickly overtaking the Oakland Raiders in the race to become the most farcical, villainous franchise in the National Football League—have now resorted to trolling senior United States senators in a hysterical attempt to defend their right to offend thousands by using a racial epitaph as a nickname.
One week after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid endorsed a letter signed by 50 U.S. senators urging the franchise to change its name, the Redskins doubled down on their effort to bankrupt the public relations industry by sending out this tweet:
And now I'm officially embarrassed for the Redskins and any fans still riding a dilapidated bandwagon destined to crash.
They just don't get it, both in terms of PR and the name itself.
The moment this strategy was launched, everyone—including, as Deadspin points out, many Redskins fans—knew it was destined to backfire. It was bound to reach beyond the blindly loyal bloc within their fanbase that staunchly supports keeping the name and land in the hands of its many critics who haven't fallen victim to myopia or bias.
It was a risky move, and it was one that failed when it became obvious that it only provoked those who formulate their opinions on such matters by consulting history books.
That Deadspin article was one of many to feature a large set of tweets lambasting the franchise in opposition of the name. Naturally, there were certainly some tweets defending the name—including one from a D.C. man who claimed he wouldn't vote for the Nevada senator if he achieved his goal of changing it—but the ridicule outweighed the attempted barrage.
The damage was done. PR suicide.
Misguided efforts to change the minds of those who oppose the name will serve only to motivate them even more. And yet the misguided efforts have continued by a franchise that seems to believe it will eventually utter the right combination of words to make this all go away, like a wizard conjuring the perfect spell.
"The 'Skins tried to engage folks," Faiz Shakir, Reid's digital director, told Deadspin, "and it has failed miserably."
The real mystery is why the Redskins decided to poke the bear even further. An accompanying email was sent out to subscribers, which is one thing, but a Twitter strategy like this—especially when a largely nonsensical letter had already been sent to Reid by team president Bruce Allen—seems to be overkill.
But that's what people do when backed into corners, I suppose.
More importantly, the team also doesn't get that it's almost absolutely going to wind up on the wrong side of history here, and that's what is truly sad.
We just have to hope that experiences like these will lead those who oppose a change to eventually realize how silly their stance is, but don't count on that happening until the name starts having a negative impact on the bottom line.
They're being stubborn now. They won't stop digging, but the hole they've dug is too deep to climb out of, and nobody will be throwing them a rope.
Eventually, a change will take place. And decades later, folks who defended the name in 2014 will be ashamed to admit that they once took such an astonishingly shortsighted stance.
As for those who are crafting these ill-advised PR counters? They'll eventually realize that their place in history resembles that of those who once fought women's suffrage and the civil rights movement.