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Controversy!ESPNNFLSports & Race

Rick Reilly’s Father-In-Law Just Dropped The Hammer On His ‘Redskins’ Defense Article


A while back — well before the world had decided that the “Redskins” moniker must change — ESPN goofball journalist Rick Reilly wrote an op-ed defending the name, citing some statistics that say Native Americans are proud of the name “Redskins.”

Note: Reilly did not refer to them as “Redskins” in his article, so, ya know, he clearly knew those numbers didn’t mean jackshit.

But he also personalized the story by defering to the words of his father-in-law, Bob Burns, who is a Blackfoot tribe elder. Here’s how he quoted him:

[ESPN] I just don’t quite know how to tell my father-in-law, a Blackfeet Indian. He owns a steak restaurant on the reservation near Browning, Mont. He has a hard time seeing the slap-in-the-face part.

“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.”

Ok. We hear you loud and clear. The outrage over the name “Redskins” is purely a function of liberal white elitists who project their indignation on everyone else without bothering to even ask if the offensive thing in question actually offends the group in question. Gotcha.

Wait, what’s that? That’s not what your father-in-law thinks? Or said? Come on, you’ve got to be kidding.

[Via Indian Country Today] 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.

Turns out, Reilly was taking an angle that didn’t even really exist. Native American people ARE outraged by the name. Because it’s offensive. It has a terrible history tied to it. It’s a cartoonish stereotype. It’s wrong. It’s simplistic. It’s not funny. It’s a problem. It needs to change.

And if you don’t see that, you’ve probably never been called an offensive racist/homophobic/sexist/religious slur in your life, and you lack the empathy to understand why such an epithet is unacceptable in 2013.

[Via Indian Country Today] Let me be clear: The racial slur “redskins” is not okay with me. It’s never going to be okay with me. It’s inappropriate, damaging and racist.

In the memory of our Blackfeet relatives, it’s time to change the name. That would honor us.

H/T Indian Country Today, and Deadspin for calling this to our attention


  • Jerry-NJ

    Couldn’t it be that the father-in-law is backtracking?

  • Beel

    You mean you wouldn’t put it past the redskin?

  • CallMeMaybeRedskin

    Yes, Redskins is a racial slur to Indians. Redskins is not a racial term for Native Americans.
    This guy doesnt even call his people Native Americans, he calls them indians. These people do not know what they want to be called. Just change the name to Washington Savages, lets see what name they prefer then.


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