Reilly On Native American Nicknames: "Antiques Of That Old Racism"

I wouldn't say that Rick Reilly is inconsistent, exactly. Compare this 1991 column on Native American nicknames for sports teams to the one he published earlier this week, and you'll find lots of similarities. In both, for instance, he goes for the reductio ad absurdum of comparing all such nicknames to racial slurs, and he seems to have thought then, as he seems to think now, that this one guy he happened to talk to is capable of speaking on behalf of millions of people.

Still... this is the same guy who just the other day compared people who think the Washington Redskins should change their nickname to the architects of reservation policy?

Why are we still stuck with antiques of that old racism—the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians? Why are we still stuck with the Florida State Seminole riding onto the football field in a headdress and planting a flaming spear into the ground?


If we can have the Washington Redskins, why can't we have the Los Angeles Yellowskins? And if we can have the Cleveland Indians—whose grinning-injun logo is to American Indians what Stepin Fetchit is to African-Americans—why can't we have the San Diego Chicanos?

It's a pretty good column. The guy who wrote it ought to read it.


Photo: Getty

Rick Reilly Just Wrote The Worst Thing. Let's Remember The Good Times.

ESPN's Rick Reilly just published a column about the controversy over the racist nickname of the Washington Redskins in which, after consulting a few Native Americans, he compares those who'd like the team to change its nickname to those who originally restricted Native Americans to reservations. Seriously: that's his kicker.

Trust us. We know what's best. We'll take this away for your own good, and put up barriers that protect you from ever being harmed again.

Kind of like a reservation.

We don't know why he's essentially equating criticism of overtly racist iconography with the forced relocation of entire nations, or how anyone could possibly publish this; we're not sure we want to know. Probably better to recall the increasingly distant days when Reilly was possibly the best sports writer working in the language. This guide to some of his best work our Tommy Craggs put together a few years ago will help.



Photo: Getty