Washington Redskins name a 'badge of honor,' Daniel Snyder tells fans

Snyder has resisted repeated calls for the team to change its name. Photo: Jay Westcott

(WJLA) - Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has already doubled down once on the controversy surrounding his team's name. He's pushing all his chips to the center once again.

In a letter sent to season ticket holders originally obtained by the Washington Post, Snyder makes an emotional appeal for longtime fans to stand up for the team's heritage and tradition.

"When I consider the Washington Redskins name, I think of what it stands for. I think of the Washington Redskins traditions and pride I want to share with my three children, just as my father shared with me," Snyder writes.

In May, Snyder told USA Today reporters that the franchise would NEVER - emphasis his - change its name despite longtime claims from Native American groups that the Redskins moniker is racist.

Most recently, the Oneida Indian Nation of New York has been forceful in its message to the team and National Football League. After repeated calls for a name change and a public meeting held Monday in Washington, the NFL will meet with tribal officials later this year on the topic.

Snyder says in his letter that he does respect those dissenting opinions, but also writes that the team cannot ignore its history.

"On the inaugural Redskins team, four players and our head coach were Native Americans," Snyder writes. "The name was never a label. It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor."

The Oneida Indians responded to Snyder's letter just hours it was released. In their rebuttal, tribal leaders say that Snyder chooses to highlight certain portions of the team's history while omitting others.

"He opted to omit from his letter, however, that the original owner who gave the team its current name was an avowed segregationist," Oneida Indian Nation spokesman Ray Halbritter said. "The marketing of this racial slur continues to have very serious consequences for my people and Native Americans everywhere."

A Silver Spring native, Snyder purchased the team in May of 1999 after the death of the team's previous owner, Jack Kent Cooke.