During a broadcast of Sunday’s Redskins game, owner Dan Snyder was seen sitting next to the president of the Navajo Nation and his wife, who were both wearing Redskins hats.
Fox Sports showed Snyder with the couple during coverage of Washington’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz.
In light of the controversy surrounding whether Snyder should change the team’s name, the Navajo president’s decision to watch the game with him is generating a lot of talk — and also more controversy.
“We’re looking to create opportunity for Navajo people who make jewelry, who make rugs, who make baskets,” said Navajo Nation member Deswood Tome, who serves as special advisor to President Ben Shelly. “The President is purely interested in creating job opportunities for Navajo, and with this franchising agreement, it makes it possible.”
The franchising agreement Tome referred to involves a deal he says Snyder made to sell Navajo art and crafts at FedEx Field, as well as on the Redskins website. Tome says Snyder is helping the Navajo try to ink a similar deal with the entire NFL.
He says he believes Shelly and his wife were given the Redskins hats they wore by the team, and they wore them in support of the deal with Snyder.
Tome says the controversy over the team name was not going to stop them from wearing the hats. He added that issues like jobs, crime and education are a far bigger concern for the Navajo Nation.
“These take precedent over a matter of a mascot name,” Tome said.
But Shelly’s decision to sit with Snyder and wear the hat has generated some backlash, including on social media.
“Looks like Dan Synder got his token, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop,” tweeted one woman who identified herself as a Native American against the team’s name.
“Disgusted in our Navajo Nation President for supporting Redskins today!…Glad his term is ending,” tweeted another woman who goes by Woke Tasha.
This summer Shelly lost in a bid to be reelected president of the Navajo Nation. His term will end early next year.