(WJLA) - Redskins president Bruce Allen had already fired back at Senator Harry Reid, defending the team name and calling it respectful to Native Americans. Then, just before 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, the organization tweeted:
"Tweet @SenatorReid to show your #RedskinsPride and tell him what the team means to you."
And some fans we spoke with were surprised by the tactic:
"If you use social media...you should beware that it can backfire anytime," said Michaela Wieser.
"Once it's out there, it's difficult for you to put the spin you want on it," added Camilo Sanim.
Almost immediately, the Twittersphere was on fire with opponents even hijacking the hashtag:
"#RedskinsPride...your name is a racial slur..."
"no better example of how out-of-touch @Redskins are than the stupid #RedskinsPride thing. Welcome to the 21rst century #changethename"
"I don't know the rationale behind the choice to take this approach...but it obviously backfired," says Steve Simon, a PR expert.
But a spokesman for the Redskins pointed us to the outpouring of support on the team's Facebook page, where more than 3,500 hundred fans had commented, saying:
" Reid needs to worry about his own state, not another states football team"...
"Please just chill out!! Leave the name alone!!"
But Simon says:
"If you don't want to hear the other side of the story, that's not the medium to use...people are going to go not with just two sides of the story, but its 360."