Many of you may be aware of the recent controversy surrounding the name of the Washington Redskins. Some feel the team name is offensive and must be changed, while others are fine just the way it is. ESPN columnist Rick Reilly decided to put in his two cents regarding the topic a few weeks ago, and naturally, he did not disappoint.
Reilly wrote his controversial column based on a quote he got from his father-in-law Bob Burns, who is a Blackfeet Indian.
The following is the exact quote from Reilly’s article on ESPN.com:
“The whole issue is so silly to me,” says Bob Burns, my wife’s father and a bundle holder in the Blackfeet tribe. “The name just doesn’t bother me much. It’s an issue that shouldn’t be an issue, not with all the problems we’ve got in this country.”
Seems rather harmless, don’t you think? The problem with the direct quote is that it is not a direct quote at all. In fact, Mr. Burns has come out in response to the misquote due to his strong feelings on being taken advantage of for a story that deals with an incredibly controversial issue.
Mr. Burns attempted to contact Reilly in hopes that his son-in-law would fix the quote so that his exact message would be heard. Unfortunately, Reilly failed to comply. Yeah, I’m not shocked either.
Burns has found a different way for the general public to hear his words, courtesy of indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com:
So you can imagine my dismay when I saw my name and words used to defend the racist Washington Redskins name. My son-in-law, ESPN’s Rick Reilly, completely misunderstood the conversation we had, quoting me as saying “the whole issue is so silly. The name just doesn’t bother me much. It’s an issue that shouldn’t be an issue, not with all the problems we’ve got in this country.”
But that’s not what I said.
What I actually said is that “it’s silly in this day and age that this should even be a battle — if the name offends someone, change it.” He failed to include my comments that the term “redskins” demeans Indians, and historically is insulting and offensive, and that I firmly believe the Washington Redskins should change their name.
When Rick’s article came out, it upset me to be portrayed as an “Uncle Tom” in support of this racial slur. I asked him to correct the record. He has not, so I must do it myself.
I understand no one is surprised Reilly would cross a line that no married man would dare think of. However, we are talking about one of the more hated sports writers of the past five years. This is a man who wrote a column dissing fans past a certain age for wearing jerseys of their favorite players.
Mr. Burns considers the name Redskins to be a very damaging word. Not only does Reilly owe his father-in-law an apology but the entire Blackfeet Indian tribe. To misquote someone the way he did is cruel, and in this case, particularly horrific considering the circumstances.