The Washington Redskins nickname has been at the center of controversy for a long time now, but the movement to get the franchise to change the team name has gained significant momentum recently.
Former Redskins cornerback and 12-time Pro Bowler Champ Bailey is the latest to speak up in opposition to the nickname.
According to USA Today's Jarrett Bell, Bailey believes the nickname is irrational and "degrading" to Native Americans:
When you hear a Native American say that ‘Redskins’ is degrading, it’s almost like the N-word for a black person. If they feel that way, then it’s not right. They are part of this country. It’s degrading to a certain race. Does it make sense to have the name?
Bailey added that it's time for the franchise to make a change, per Bell:
I don’t know where the name came from or how it came about, but the bottom line is that it’s still here in this day and age, and it makes no sense to have it. I love that organization, but when it starts peeling off old scabs and people are pitching a fit about it because it’s degrading to them, then you’ve got to make a change.
The 16-year NFL veteran currently plays for the New Orleans Saints, but was drafted by Washington with the seventh overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft. Bailey recorded 18 interceptions in five seasons with the Redskins before being traded to the Denver Broncos in 2004.
Bailey, who will turn 36 later this month, is one of the league's most accomplished players.
In addition to criticizing Washington's use of the nickname, Bailey noted that changing the name would be constructive for the franchise as well, per Bell:
They don’t represent anything that name stands for. It’s a bad reflection of what they really stand for. It’s a bad name...I don’t think much would change, as far as the branding and all of that. (The team) is still going to be beloved in that city. That’s just the way it is.
Although Bailey's comments seem to echo those made by others in the past, his words carry significant weight considering he spent his first five seasons in the league with Washington and played for the Redskins fanbase.
While it remains to be seen how passionate other NFL players are when it comes to this issue, Bailey's comments could potentially lead other NFL stars to speak out on the controversial nickname.
With more voices chiming in on the polarizing debate, Bailey's powerful remarks certainly won't be the last we hear.
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