It's been a rough offseason for the Washington Redskins, and not just because of the knee injury to star quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The team's nickname has faced a new barrage of criticism for being offensive to Native Americans. Local leaders and pundits have called for a name change. Opponents have launched a legal challenge intended to deny the team federal trademark protection. A bill introduced in Congress in March would do the same, though it appears unlikely to pass.
But a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows that nationally, "Redskins" still enjoys wide support. Nearly four in five Americans don't think the team should change its name, the survey found. Only 11 percent think it should be changed, while 8 percent weren't sure and 2 percent didn't answer.
Although 79 percent favor keeping the name, that does represent a 10 percentage point drop from the last national poll on the subject, conducted in 1992 by The Washington Post and ABC News just before the team won its most recent Super Bowl. Then, 89 percent said the name should not be changed, and 7 percent said it should.
Several poll respondents told The AP that they did not consider the name offensive and cited tradition in arguing that it shouldn't change.
"That's who they've been forever. That's who they're known as," said Sarah Lee, a 36-year-old stay-at-home mom from Osceola, Ind. "I think we as a people make race out to be a bigger issue than it is."
But those who think the name should be changed say the word is obviously derogatory.
"With everything that Native Americans have gone through in this country, to have a sports team named the Redskins come on, now. It's bad," said Pamela Rogal, 56, a writer from Boston. "Much farther down the road, we're going to look back on this and say, 'Are you serious? Did they really call them the Washington Redskins?'"
In March, a three-judge panel heard arguments from a group of five Native American petitioners that the team shouldn't have federal trademark protection, which could force owner Daniel Snyder into a change.
Susan Shown Harjo, a plaintiff in that case, said the poll results were "irrelevant" because popular opinion shouldn't decide the issue.
"This is a really good example of why you never put racism up to a popular vote," she said. "It's not up to the offending class to say what offends the offended."
Around the league
Buccaneers • The team formally announced that the four-time All Pro defensive tackle Warren Sapp is the newest member of Tampa Bay's Ring of Honor and will be honored on Nov. 11 at Raymond James Stadium.
Ravens • Free-agent lineman Bryant McKinnie has decided to remain with Baltimore, agreeing to a two-year deal to stay put.