Former Redskins star Grimm says nickname isn’t derogatory

Hall of Famer Russ Grimm played and coached for the Redskins for nearly two decades and supports the team's nickname.

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Calling it a “proud nickname,” Pro Football Hall of Fame guard Russ Grimm strongly believes that Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder shouldn’t bow to public pressure and change the franchise’s moniker.

Grimm – a key member of Washington’s iconic “Hogs” offensive line during his 11-year NFL career (1981-91) – also said “Redskins” as a team nickname shouldn’t be considered an offensive term to Native Americans.

“I know some people will get upset with that (thinking),” Grimm told co-host Phil Savage and me Thursday night on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “When you think about it, do you hear anybody (derogatorily) going, ‘Redskin, Redskin, Redskin.’? ”

Grimm conceded that he understood why some believe Redskins is offensive. A group of 50 U.S. Senators recently wrote a letter to Snyder urging a nickname change, describing Redskins as a slur that evokes memories of racism and bigotry.

An anti-Redskins commercial sponsored by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation tribe in Northern California aired in select cities last Sunday night during Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Former Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey, now with the Denver Broncos, also is among those who have publically stated the nickname should be retired.

“I can see their point with that,” Grimm said. “There’s no question there, but I don’t think (the Redskins) are going to change it.”

That is certainly how it appears. Club president Bruce Allen recently wrote a staunch defense to the U.S. Senators’ petition, describing what he claimed was the nickname’s non-offensive origin after the franchise changed from the Braves to Redskins in 1933 while still based in Boston. Allen also cited public opinion polls showing strong support for the Redskins moniker to remain. Plus, the NFL continues to publicly support Snyder.

“The name has been around long enough,” said Grimm, who was a Redskins assistant coach from 1992 to 2000 after retiring as a player. “It hasn’t offended anyone for a long time. I’ve never heard of anybody calling ‘Redskins’ where it’s a derogatory name.

“I don’t think anything that has been part of that team – the name, the concept or whatever — offends any American Indians.”

Grimm also said the nickname controversy “comes up every couple of years,” including in the 1980s while he played in Washington.

“I don’t think that Redskin name is trying to put down anybody,” he said. “I was a Redskin. I’m going to stay with it.”

More of the Russ Grimm interview can be heard here: